So It’s October Again
It’s time for lines, crowds, waves of pink to ripple across the river bridge into downtown Little Rock.
I’ve walked behind others dressed in pink who’ve had breast cancer. Or maybe they loved and honored someone with breast cancer. They walked and remembered. Some walked and celebrated.
Sobering. My breast cancer was found in 2011. A strange year indeed.
Looking back is my way of loving all victims who have heard the Big C-word as they looked into the eyes of a doctor.
Today I’m sharing a piece of my story. These two poems come from my book Women, Resilient Women (2018). (So many resilient women know this story.)
Crossing a Muddy Swamp
We heard the C-word today, didn’t we?
A muddy swamp. Want to run away? I do.
Pillar of smoke by day, fire by night, right?
Was my overnight bag brought inside?
Do hospitals really let you wear pajamas?
Still looking for an alternate path, anything.
Afterwards, will you count my stitches?
I sank into earthsoup during surgery.
Murky, every direction. Was the lump big?
Can we take a minute to squawk like blue herons?
Will we lose a whole year fighting this thing?
Watch your foothold. It’s deep here. Cold, too.
Must I take chemo and do radiation?
Will this lowdown day never end?
I wonder if you will stop loving me.
Is it my fault the cells turned positive?
Knee-deep in red chemo now, aren’t we?
Wigs, caps, scarves. Will my hair sprout again?
Feet and hands, peeling. What is this?
Are you half-fascinated, half-horrified like me?
Do you think a lost sparrow can be lucky?
Will you give my big scar a little kiss?
A new rhythm, not so muddy now.
Will we get an aerial view of the swamp?
Hey, you want some coffee?
Racing for the Cure in Little Rock
October. In years past,
this month was about
gathering gourds, pumpkins,
mums, dried corn.
But now, after the Big C,
there is oddness in me.
So odd that I drive to a big city,
dress in pink, determined to walk
in front of, alongside, behind
My, my, my.
I turn into
a long-legged bird
rocking in rhythm,
the Main Street Bridge,
while the Arkansas River
its white rippling hands
for ecstatic pink birds
winging their way
toward the finish line.
May they someday find a cure for cancers. In the meantime, ladies, don’t forget to get a mammogram every 12 months. Seriously, it’s worth the trouble, effort, money.
People in pink, walking for Breast Cancer Awareness across the Broadway Bridge in Little Rock in 2012. Photo taken by Pat Durmon.