Dipping toes in
of a fish
the clipped sound of I
A blanket of numb
wraps around me
between me and the urge to write
encased and unsafe
all the time
Dipping toes in
of a fish
the clipped sound of I
A blanket of numb
wraps around me
between me and the urge to write
encased and unsafe
all the time
I could tell you my password
I could whisper it in your ear
in what manner would you use it, what threshold would you cross?
I would not like to see the new film, the one that is sublime and exquisite
my bones used to spiral within me, exquisite and sublime
crossing into the next threshold which has its own rules of perfection, laws by which I cannot abide
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
greetings, if I have any readers left
just playing around with words right now
it’s been so long
nothing doing but snow again in Western Mass
how’s by you?
I know I’ve been absent for a while. I expect I’ll write here again, get my mojo workin’. I’m not going to try to do it though, at least that’s not a plan for now. When I think of things to write, or more rarely, when I draft something, it seems inconsequential to me.
This is a happy occasion. I submitted some poems in 2013 and heard from the editor of Literary Mama in August 2014. Usually, one gets a response much sooner, so I had forgotten I’d even submitted to the journal. I am thrilled that they accepted my poem.
It’s good to have an excuse to post. I’m here. I’m still here.
what if I woke up with a lotus on my head
filled with golden sun
and I could even type it with my eyes closed
and all the world made sense
my children whole and filled with golden light (they are you know)
the dark places and spaces, splaces if you like, filled with golden light (funny bits are welcome and are sometimes hard to summon in a person with cancer)
the light of god? not if you don’t believe in god, but it doesn’t matter because all are filled with light (no, I know, there are sick and damaged people beyond, seemingly beyond, the help even of their parents, beyond us….yesterday’s news and that father talking about his son and the sickness in our country, and I whisper in my head may it never be my children, never, and then, never any of my friends’ children and then any child I know and then anyone, let it not be anyone. WE ARE ALL CONNECTED. My network of helping friends is greater than those whose names I know. But this violence happens to someone we know, it is always one of us. We are kin.)
When I am filled in this way, I can forget
the house I haven’t adored or enjoyed for 14 years (too long) and maybe the house is metaphor for my own body and my own being and it’s tragic but true
so now if I don’t love my house, it’s okay; I still I have to love my body and my self, fully. I have to make do and not hate my house yes, hope and work for a better house, but make peace with myself and allow light
I have to Wake Up
we live in the darkness of bustling cars and news and the internet it is wonderfully connecting but we are not well in it we are on overload
My body is filled with chemicals so I have to take other chemicals to counter them, to live
sending the light—did you? because last night, after 2 am, I woke up bathed in it, filled with it, smiling, soft and peaceful, warm and content, feeling whole
I would not wish my diagnosis on anyone; there is no one to blame, so the alternative is to get mad. I haven’t gotten there yet. I need to see my anger and touch it and chew it to bits because I want to be free from it. I know it’s here when I ask “why me?” and when I can’t connect the person who I thought I would become (one who would always be free from cancer) to the one who I am, who has cancer in my body right now. Is it the power of the word cancer, from its history in my life, from the way it swirls around us as if it only happens to other people, takes ones we love, or is it something more? The power of the word must diminish and it will diminish, but it may take a while. There will be better healing medicines and approaches. I believe every year there is progress and maybe a leap every 3 years, every 5, every 7, every 10.
Maybe I can reframe the meaning of the word. I want to hear it differently in my mind. cancer. multiple myeloma. treatment, recurrence. All the scary words. Can you help me? I want to face them first with a brave warrior stance and then let them lose their power so they are words I can allow to exist without me cringing in fear.
I want to show you my daughters. How mysterious their lives are when I see the photos of them when they were little and simply young; and now, in their lives as they separate away from me and Paul. The mystery of birthing them, nursing them, raising them, but they grow anyway and have a force within. They have to leave and it’s a good thing. It is what we want for them, to thrive and make their own lives with their own, new people.
Cleaving. To split.
Yes, give me a new house where I can be freer and have quiet from the road and constant cars, where the bedrooms are not next to the kitchen, where the ceilings are high and air and light crosses through the rooms. People say you don’t need a bigger house because my kids will leave soon, but that is beside the point. Not much bigger, just better laid out and off a busy road. And who doesn’t expect them to need places to come home to for many years nowadays? It takes a while.
I can feel the empty nest on the horizon and that’s not a mixed metaphor because that is how I can explain to you my experience of its approach.
I will have a new house. I will go into remission from multiple myeloma by god by hook or by crook by the golden light, by gum, as best I can making the best choices I can at the moment with the best information and help and friends doing research on the scary bits. I want it gone for a long while and then I want better options should it peak in again. I want to live. To wear a starry crown, but not a way over yonder like the hymn says; here on earth. To wear a starry crown. I woke up with one, so why not?
Thanks for your food, your prayers, your help, the beautiful flowers; your sending of light and visualizing all sorts of places inside of me, intimate spaces you never thought you’d know in yourself let alone in me. The interior of my bones, my perfect ribs, curving and white. We have little space in our bodies, our bodies are filled with cells and molecules and atoms. Fill mine with healing light. Calm blue waters. Do the same for yourself. Whatever colors work for you. Then receive some light and vibration from someone far away. You leave yourself alone, you sit still, even for a split second, and you receive the light of the universe coming to you. Don’t even try to be perfect, because in this practice, you already are. Leave yourself alone!
We are the light of the universe, how can the light fit into our very tightly-packed cells? Because we alone can conceive it and see it and make it so. It is a thought, a fantasy, a creation of the mind, but it imbues the body. It is a wish. You feel this when you meditate. It is mysterious but real, like not being able to put my finger on the passage of time.
I know, this is out there and sappy for me, but I woke up like this and I don’t give a shit right now. All the signals are telling me to re-read it, to hold it until morning, to wait, to judge. You know what happens when I judge myself? Yes, you are right, I become a better writer. But that’s wrong, that’s only judging something I produced. I can judge my work and make it better and I do and I want to and I should.
I’m going to let this silly sappy piece go
hold it in my hand and blow on it from my lips, right out into the world
all you have to do is receive
kiss the spark that is in you, the same spark that started the universe
there are rogue cells, there are bad chemicals in our air and water, I know. I have known for a long time because I was born in the sixties.
Say with me that these rogue cells must turn off the dirty work they started in my body. no party for them. off, be off with ya.
shoo fly, don’t bother me, for I’m in love with somebody
my beautiful daughters, summer 2013
In my 50th year, I got a cancer diagnosis
Medical waste. You have no idea. If you’ve spent any time in a hospital, then again, you do.
If the way we live is making us sicker (though through advances in science, we have longer lifespans), we need to change it. We are stuck.
Cars, plastic, disposable everything. Cars, plastic, disposables. Single-use. Not biodegradable. Not safe. Medicines flowing from our bodies into the water supply and into the ground and into everything else.
Did you know you can take your own cups and bottles to take-out or fast food places? Sometimes they will refill your insulated coffee cup. Sometimes they will refill your giant, heavy-duty plastic cup. I have 2 of these and we have 3 thermal, hot beverage cups. Just peer into any garbage can outside of any strip mall in America on a Saturday or Sunday and see if you might not like to try. Have a plan. You can take your own re-usable utensils places; this is harder to remember. You might feel queer. But you might inspire others. You can put paper napkins in your compost. You can put paper bags in the recycling. You can take your own bags for fuck’s sake don’t tell me you still use the store’s plastic bags when you grocery shop. Save that for times you really couldn’t attend to this small commitment. You don’t have to be perfect, but we all have to WAKE UP. Do what you can that’s easy. Baby steps. You can do this. It matters. Oh, and don’t idle your car.
I feel less sad. I had fun yesterday. I was exhausted all day, but I had fun.
I feel a little happy this morning, I’m tired.
I’m self-absorbed. How long?
I feel the light of the universe flowing through me.
I shaved my head because Violet and a friend of hers shaved their heads and I thought FUCK IT, it’s time. I waited so long for a haircut that my hair was unruly and unflattering, but since my hair will fall out from the chemo (Cytoxan) I got yesterday, this was a great option. In about 3 weeks, my hair (what little is left) will fall out. I am not afraid or upset about this. HAIR GROWS BACK.
The problem is my face looks very raggedy to me. That part is harder. Our hair becomes attention, a focus, beauty.
Violet decided to shave off her hair separate from my situation; still it’s kind of strange, but only in my mind in a way that I wonder what other people might think. Do they think she did it for/because of me? She didn’t. Her friend goes through many hair manifestations and so does Violet. Fun. It grows back. Don’t be afraid of changing your hair!
I picture my bones white, so white. Vibrant and healthy. Calm. After all these months of picturing them in this way, not every day, but enough, it is easy to see them this way.
Calming the marrow. Stopping the proliferating rogue cells. That’s a little harder. Let’s have at it. I will have at it.
I slept well last night, but am mildly nauseous (Cytoxan does this). I’m still tired so will probably go back to sleep. It’s morning.
When I say I shaved my head, I don’t mean bald. There’s a nice, soft stubble. It’s soft to run my hand across. You’d like it. It’s a pleasant sensation.
Don’t forget to sing. I forget. My friend who drove me to Boston and stayed with me Thursday night so we could be at Dana Farber at 7 am Friday morning, reminded me to sing, to recite poems we knew from when we were young. Play is not unique to humans, but it is essential for happiness. I’ve been forgetting. That makes me sad; but I have every day of my life to choose to play.
Teenagers play in different ways than when they were little kids. Adults, too. Slowly, we forget unless we are immersed. Stay immersed in play. Do this. Remind me, too.
Love, send healing light whenever you can. Sing. Chant. Drum. Stomp. Recite. Play. Kiss your children and your friends, male and female. Kiss your family. Kiss.
I am greater than this cancer. I am bigger than this cancer. I am bigger than what it or the meds can do to me. I am strong. I am determined to be free of it for good.*
There is no room in my body for multiple myeloma (or any cancer)
There is only room for healing light and love
Can you see that? I can. Sometimes, and at least more often than before.
*but it scares me to think this. I hope I get better at it. When I can’t pull for myself, I am so incredibly grateful for your help. I know without a shred of doubt that there are hundreds of people pulling for me, some praying, some visualizing, some singing, all sending love and hope. Some helping in the most concrete ways: food, rides, goodies.
I am grateful. Thank you.
Here I am right before the buzz cut. I’m not sure I am brave enough to show you after. In time, when my face is more rested. EVERYTHING shows when you are almost bald!
Bursting with love, Katherine
love and kisses to you all!
It made me sad.
Finding an old name and then the face to go with it.
The couple, married before me, before any of us, straight after college.
You think a couple is a good couple because of so many things, their combined physicality for instance. Their interests. They way they make each other laugh.
They were both tall and thin. I mean, really tall and really thin. Both hipsters, not artists themselves, on the periphery, but always the right choice in music and film and clothing.
Without looking for either of them, I found them both on Facebook.
So many people are still there, in Cleveland, the art scene still alive. If I had stayed in Kent, would I have begun to venture back to the east side? Would my poetry have cropped up again? Would my daughter have wanted to go to art school and really have accepted the acceptance at CIA?
I would not have found Sacred Harp singing, that’s for sure.
They were at my wedding with a new baby. How little I knew of babies then, but thought I did. Thought I knew so much.
(for the first time, I’ve figured out how to put a video directly from my Photo Booth to my blog without making it public on youtube. how could this have flummoxed me so in the past? does this date mean it’s from October or November? dang dates)
If you have been a reader here for a while, this piece may not be particularly different or surprising; but maybe somewhat so. In any case, I am not writing to panic you or make you think I am not going to come out on the other side of my multiple myeloma treatment with anything but my life intact. I expect a full remission. On the other hand, I try not to project too much about particulars at this time. I don’t expect to know a lot of things, and I am learning not to be too cocky any more. I was really cocky, thinking I’d never get cancer: that will never be me. It had no place in my vision for myself or my life force. Now I won’t show such hubris as to project ages and dates because I think they will not have the same meaning to me that they used to. Now I don’t get too far ahead of myself. This is a piece about just what it is. If if helps, think of it as fantasy.
If you are going to comment, please do not put forth your own beliefs about how I am doing or whether I am doing the right or wrong thing. That is not what this writing is about. You may send your love and light and wholeness, your chi, your prana, your aligned and lit-up chakra energy. I know you are sending images and colors and calm and I love it all. I am filled with love for you and from you. You may pray to Jesus for me, to God, to Buddha, to a tiny pea seed hiding in the darkness, waiting for spring. You may bless me and love me. But I do not want your judgment, for that belongs to you alone.
♥ ♥ ♥
I lie on the table, looking out the window into winter. I am weak. The room is warm, too warm, making me give in further to my weakness. The effort to shift my bones is too much so I don’t move. I sink. To smile at the male cardinal cracking seeds in his beak is too much. I feel Victorian and gauzy. I am the weight of a square of gauze. If I had to wear anything but a silk gown next to my skin, I would surely break into pieces.
I want to fade away, but I would fade into misery. Do they talk about the pain? The exhaustion of hauling around a shell, the ghost of my formerly strong body. When was the last time I could take a deep breath without it getting caught at the sides of my ribs? When didn’t I gasp for air to come in or to wince in slight pain when it went out?
Now I know that lo these 9 months (and then some!) I was never being dramatic. I never had a low pain threshold. Au contraire. I wish I had listened with a non-judgmental ear to that pain. I never thought of myself as stoic, I thought I was whining. I thought my pain was a bore to those around me. I popped ibuprofen like it was candy. Ibuprofen and ice, sometimes dancing or vigorous hiking would give relief. So it must not have been that bad.
I birthed two babies, hard labors, at home. Especially my first birth was long and hard—21 hours of active labor on top of 2 days of early labor and I started out with a flu which had left me sleep-deprived and dehydrated. Baby had the cord wrapped around her body 4 times and was born with a compound presentation (her tiny perfect arm wedged up against her head). I did that without pain medication. Still I’ve thought of myself as weak in the face of pain.
Yet here I am and here I have lived for over 9 months, painful fractures throughout my bones.
Time is not time. Time is weariness is pain is too much. Time has to end now. Time is too much for me to bear. How can I stay alive through this? What if I get worse tomorrow? Surely I don’t have the reserves of strength this will take. Surely I need a pillow to be carried on, a sedan chair, does no one see this? Why aren’t the hospitals equipped with silken pillows and nursemaids who will bathe and oil and dress me. They have to carry my arms, move my fingers for me, lift water to my mouth. I am too weak to manage my own body. I am fading but no one sees.