The day I was diagnosed with cancer, I sat down and wrote this poem:

 

The Mountain

 

She stands at the edge of an abyss,

casually looking down:

Cancer.

The word rings through the canyons,

Careening off

The frozen edges of her heart.

Cancer.

She cries.

 

For six weeks she has toiled up the mountain

Six weeks

Since finding a lump in her breast

Six weeks

Of trudging one foot in front of the other

Six weeks

Of trying to hear the birds and see the

grass and smell the flowers and

touch the trees

In the valley where she once lived,

In the valley which was her home

Until hellfires burned around her.

 

She refuses to see the devastation.

She only looks up, past the jagged peaks

To the apex of the mountain:

I will be healthy there.

Her faith is in the climb,

Her heart is in the future.

She is the blessed child;

The universe protects her.

She will reach the top of the mountain

And fly with angels, as she has

always done.

 

Suddenly she is at the summit;

The wait is over

But instead of a beautiful panorama

The view is shrouded by icy winds

Kicking up dust storms

Of ugly words she does not want to hear.

The altitude is too thin,

She is afraid she will pass out and stumble

Into crevices filled with broken lives.

She clutches her arms around her,

Trying to hide the scars on her breast

From the taunting mountains surrounding her.

Fly, child, a voice whispers.

It is what you came up here to do.

She pleads:

I am afraid, Mother.

I cannot see the valley below me;

The trees are covered by smoke.

The flowers have burned to ash

And my birds could not make it this high.

I am afraid:

I no longer have a sense of direction

And if I crash

I may not have the strength

To rise up again.

The voice whispers slowly,

Fly, child.

It is what you do the best.

 

She stands at the edge of an abyss,

cautiously looking down:

Cancer.

The word rings through the canyons,

Careening off

The frozen edges of her heart.

Cancer.

She cries again.

 

Slowly

She unfolds her wings

And a not-so-gentle breeze catches her

And lurches her

To a destiny beyond her vision

And places outside her dreams.

 

© 1998 Meredith Karen Laskow