Literary Orphans

Maybe I’m Dying
by Anna March

there_is_thunder_in_our_hearts_by_victoriaaudouard

Maybe I’m dying.
Maybe that pain is a tumor slicing through me.
That lump is cancer, not the deep cysts that comes with age.
Ovarian cancer, stage 4, I’m certain.
The condition of being human has caught me.

Your legs don’t work and I’m too fat and any day now the old dog who lives with us might die. Even the young dog we love isn’t so young. He sleeps more now. The old dog is old and the young dog is middle-aged just before our eyes. My fingers circle for lumps. Fears go round in the dark. The noise in the night is right here in our bed.

Emily lost her baby, not yet 3.
She’d already lost some of her leg but
she’d give the rest and the whole of the other and both arms
to have him back un-sick.
So many friends have had this or that terrible thing.
Everyone is going in for colonoscopy,
or a scan of some anatomy,
everyone seems to have had a breast or two removed.
Eight women I know are having chemo,
finding or losing whatever was left of their religions.

We live in fear but also light.
Still,
everyday we pretend we aren’t wealthy,
that our biggest problem isn’t
deciding what’s for dinner,
Tilapia or chicken.
Measuring if we are staying in the city or decamping to the beach this weekend,
or if instead we are going to get away from it all
leave our lives behind
go someplace far from home for
a break
because we think we need a break from all this.

We are here, now, though, breathing in place,
talking about replacing the dishes
acquiring bigger mortgages
shopping for a new rug to replace the one that old dog and
middle aged dog have ruined,
writing checks for the housekeeper who is not yet 30,
paying for other women’s work
and the man who comes and picks up the yard.

We’re wealthy
And rich in love
And nothing we can do matters.

Yet, sometimes, now
I remember anyway that
before I left Rome, I’d left my mother behind there in the ruins,
That I’m glad I haven’t seen my father in 20 some years,
That my grandfather is dead,
That my grandmother is at the last.

Still, the other day we were driving, The afternoon aching out all over the flatlands, snow coming too early and too late in the year
and I remembered nothing is ever on time.

We were too young forever,
Then we are almost too old.
You were hungry when we met,
already grey.
I was merely starving,
you made my mouth beautiful in an instant.

So,
Maybe I’m dying now, maybe you are.
Notches of your spine can never be replaced,
I will never be even 40 again.
It doesn’t matter if we die young.
We’ve already lived
a full life.
Wealthy. Rich. In love.
–Poem by Anna March