Mango with Sticky Rice

The computer keeps crashing
they said, apologetically. That’s why
you’ve been waiting so long. She has
to compare this set of scans
with the last one, so please wait
a little longer. The phone game
is almost distracting enough,
as the pink-clad women sweep in
and out. Some chatter, relieved –
that’s done. An hour passes; three
different nurses come in to apologize.

My heart jumps each time they say
my name. The computer’s crashing
every time your files come up; the IT guy
is here now. I don’t tell them the same
thing happened six months ago. I do
start wondering if I’m a little cursed.

While I wait, I wonder how I will
take the news, if it’s bad. If they say,
the cancer’s back. Will I burst into
sudden tears? They’re used to that,
surely. Will I be so calm and stoic
that they will ask me, as my first
doctor did – do you understand
what I just said? I am a writer,
and so I rehearse various scenes,
try out the dialogue, when my game
is not quite distracting enough.

Finally, they pull me into the hall
and hand me the sheet that says:
benign. They say, she couldn’t
quite get the last one up, but
she thinks it’s fine; she’ll call you,
if there’s any problems. Great,
I say. What else can one say?
Head home, where I do not need
to decide how I will take the news;
how I will tell Kevin, the kids.

I will always be a cancer patient
– barred from giving blood, subject
to a higher level of scrutiny for every
small illness or injury. Today, though,
the only decision to make is whether
to have sushi or Thai to celebrate.
One year cancer-free. Huzzah.


September 16, 2016