Cancer: a poem

the weight of some words

they are rocks in the bones, they are stones

i carry

back to the sea, all the way home

i walk

with the weight of a word, how i want to take a mallet

to its form, to all the little words that grow from its skin

all the little stones that are caught in my shoe

the limp, the longing

i could say the word, gratitude

and it would be true

but

it is too heavy tonight, tonight it feels

like my granny’s soft body, how i had to bend down

to be held, how all the years would fall from my life

reduced by her love, and tonight it tastes like my brother’s laughter

how i find him still trapped in a text message

he would laugh at this, sometimes i do too

there was so much living when it lasted

until it didn’t

how it never seems to stray far, finding its way back

with so much ease, even now

it walks quietly

i throw my thank-yous at it, all my faith

in mustard seeds, sometimes

i throw stones at it, shouting at the top of my voice, rock at rock

i scream more than i pray, the words that force their way out of my holy mouth

are not meant for children

i am honest

this thing will make you take off all the clothes

you thought the world wanted to see, the things you thought

were important

until they are not

this word

the weight of it.

— cancer

© Liezel Graham 2022

{Image by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash}

today is #WorldCancerDay and if you have been here a while, following my words, you will know that my granny was a soft place to me, and my brother left a hole in my heart.

many, many of you beautiful people have fought this disease in all its forms and you have crawled your way out to the other side, perhaps you are still fighting, perhaps you are standing on the shore and you can see home, perhaps you are afraid.

don’t be.

once upon a time i was a nurse and i held the hands of people as they stepped out of this room into the next.

i am not afraid.

something beautiful awaits.

don’t be afraid.

and perhaps you are a nurse and you are holding hands, and inserting lines, and cleaning wounds, and washing bodies, and speaking hope, and crying in the sluice room, and driving home with the weight of this world on your shoulders.

you are everything. hold on. your work is sacred.

perhaps you are sitting next to a bed, also waiting.

i send you all my love. so, so much kindness and grace.

let me tell you this, as you wait, you are not alone.

and perhaps you are missing someone too.

and it hurts.

i see you.

x

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