The first needle is long, but no worse than the dentist’s,

a small prick in an unaccustomed place.  Rat-tat!

Rat-tat!  The biopsy sounds like the beat of a distant

drum, or, more sharply, a staple-gun, extracting

rather than inserting.  Two days later, the breast

still aches and the results are in.  Surprising.  She

was so young.  Is.  Is, of course.  At forty-three,

on the young side for this, but not outside the bounds.


The last lump we were sure was cancer:

benign uterine fibroids, only fertility-threatening.

Spurring a spiral of panic, months of weeping

about children not yet had.  Perhaps responsible

for our finally having children at all.  The pointed

impetus, the reminder that we don’t actually have

all the time in the world.  The odds are with us,

this time.  Only one out of twenty won’t make it.

We have been lucky so far.  Rat-tat.  Rat-tat.