by Charles Fox
October 23, 2020
The first person from work I told was Katherine.
She was dropping off student work
like an hour after I watched the live video
of clouds in the bloody sky
and I trust her and I value her
value for me and others.
I am grateful for her friendship.
She told Andy from Alabama
who called me while I was on my way to meet Peter
and talk movies with a bunch of guys from his neighborhood,
doctors, financial advisors, restauranteurs,
guys I’d met a time or two before,
the chair of philosophy, with whom I work
on things sometimes at work;
I think I could talk about it
and be re-assured
if I wanted. But, why talk.
Except Peter, I told him.
I had told Katherine that I’d call Andy
because he is a good friend
and he knows about cancer. He’s
like the English Department’s Oncological Answer Man
in my mind.
His dad was a dean with a beard at Alabama.
His dad, the way I remember it, shaved and found the melanoma.
His dad, the way I remember it,
it had spread
into the spine
and his dad was gone.
A couple of months later
Andy finds his own cancer
and then it was gone.
Not really gone, but
like the ghost of cancer
which needs to be looked for
every time it’s this time of year.
That’s what the clouds reminded me of after
I thought about it again today.
Those are the cancers.
I remember them
and they are like ghosts,
images from a screen
without my glasses on.
I’m watching the clouds with Dr Vikram
and the nurse, and he said see the cauliflower
like tumors there on your bladder
that’s cancer I say
yes someone both says
“It’s easy cancer,”
That’s what I heard
when I heard what happens next
and when I said it aloud.
I am grateful for easy cancer.
There are details to easy cancer
and I am grateful
for bags, but more so
grateful for Baudelaire
for hearing words that change in my mind
immediately into something else.
Cancer is just a word
Alabama Andy said. I believe him.
That was Tuesday.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
watched the Astros with mom and dad
October games, late in the season
this year of our COVID.
I thought about calling Andy from Idaho.
My birthday is the 26t
I was induced during the Cuban Missile Crisis,
mom said, because the doctor liked
to golf on Saturdays. And
there were missiles just off the coast.
I am grateful for missile crisis resolved without incident. When the crisis changes into peace.
It is Thursday
Monday was the operation; the 19th because
we all just wanted it done.
Dr Vikram didn’t let me watch it live.
He told Laura after there were a fair number.
But someday or two later, I read her notes
and they said, tumors were on all sides, all over the place, everywhere,
but everything from now on forever would be good.
I am grateful that I have easy cancer.
Dad always thinks of Patty
I think of my sister everyday
bags and tubes
and real pain
I am grateful for healing.
I think a lot about ghosts.
I imagine them living with me
sometimes birthed from the images
I once saw on a screen.
Other images though
are ghosts of cancer
lived out in the dying body
one each and every one of us of knows.
I am grateful for ghosts.
I made a midnight pact with myself in the shower
the Monday night after.
I wanted to write about gratitude.
Imagine the worst
Imagine the body uglied in pain
I had thought about it before,
the weekend before
imagining the worst
imagining what if and then then
I made a pact for easy cancer
to always be haunted by your ghost.
I called Andy from Texas
who for me is Andy from Idaho
because I wanted to talk to him.
I told him my sad story
and he told me his.
I told Laura what I heard in what Andy said
cancer by any other name.
Easy cancer is like a week of cancer.
I spent lots of time waiting in socially distant waiting rooms
waiting for tests, pre-op consults, probes, don’t drink
they should have told you to drink more
you’ll know everything that you’ll ever need to know on Monday
rest and have a good weekend.
Monday, 170 lbs
I missed the window so I went without any food.
Everybody who knows
wanted to talk or be there to talk
even though I don’t really.
All gratitude to Laura. All gratitude to Laura. All gratitude to Laura for loving.
All gratitude to mom. All gratitude to dad. All gratitude to brother James.
All gratitude to my son and daughter. All gratitude to Kay and all Crawleys.
I want to name everyone gratefulness. I want to name anyone gratitude.
I love and I am ready.
Thanks to beloved.
Thanks to beloved.
This COVID year has been
a red bag waiting to turn gold
and I have been a ghost for weeks
I would be a ghost if it were not
for the new eleven pounds
swelling out from the inside of my belly.
Loving and gracious God,
Thank you for easy cancer.