published in The Joy of Poetry
I drive to chemo, mad
that Mom’s still taking it. Park. Climb the stairs
to the infusion room at the top of the building.
Her cheery voice guides me to her chair,
where her face has aged ten years in three weeks,
like she’s been in the sun too long.
She settles herself right in the middle of everything
spreading sunshine in January. When she spies me
Everyone wants to revolve around her, like the young
woman who hugs her, offers to bake brownies
(marijuana-laced). Mom politely declines.
A former patient drops by to visit
as if she had a quick appointment at the tanning salon.
They chat with the ladies hooked up on either side of Mom.
When they hear her story of 28 years
with this doctor, this disease,
their eyes widen like they just saw the light.
My rage crumples under her warmth. I fetch
ice chips that melt instantly in her hot little mouth.
Her feet are cold, so I tuck her in with a yellow
crocheted blanket, a gift from a friend who wants
to wrap her in sunshine.
When she finishes the day’s dose,
we exit and the room is thrown off as if
the sun were swept away.
leaving behind only winter and cancer.