Giveth, Taketh


I stepped into the waiting room a bit late
Sorry, I’m late, my appointment is for…
Take a seat, someone will be with you shortly.
Sat down, waited
Waited for the intake clerk to call my name

Put on this gown
Take off everything from the waist up
Store your clothes in this locker
Don’t forget to take the key
I locked my upper coverings in the locker
And sat quietly for my turn
Locked up my straining emotions

When the news came last month
That I had to go for extra tests
More views and an ultrasound
Breast cancer, an epidemic,
I didn’t panic
I traveled to Florida first
To see Atlantis, the last space shuttle lift off into space
I forced my mind to think of other things
Alligators, eagles, flying fish and rockets
To the moon or bust.
To the moon, Alice!

This bust has been nothing but trouble for me
Buttons that won’t close at the top
Though the bottom fits
Underwires are like wearing prison bars
Staring guy eyes
Mammary glands, how strange
Peculiar to mammals
None for alligators, eagles, or flying fish
How do sea turtles survive without mammary glands?
Mine refused to cooperate for their intended purpose
Suckling my young
As though they were saying,
Hey, we’re here for show
We don’t work for a living
It’s not in our contract.

So as I was saying
I took the extra required views
Actually of the right breast only
The left has been well behaved lately
A painful squeezing of the tissue up against the xray machine
Bam! Zap! Kaboom!
But with menopause, not as painful as before
When my vital tissues were young and more filled with life
The glands are emptying out now, drying up.

And then I waited some more
Longer in the waiting room in my hospital gown
Locker key on a curly chain around my wrist
And waited, waited, waited for the news from the doctor.

In time, the technician came back to see me
Good news, you don’t need an ultrasound
Here’s a paper, keep it for your records
It says you are free of cancer
It was just a shadow on the film
Nothing to be concerned about
Have we done a good job serving you today?
Have you found the waiting room comfortable?
You’ll be mailed a survey about your experience
I hope you agree that we’ve served you well today.

I dressed and returned the key to its rightful locker
And left the hospital
Strolled right out, safe for another year
Putting the whole thing to rest until the next annual scrutiny.

And on the way home,
A hawk flew
Not to the moon
But right into the car traveling in front of me
Strange, I thought hawks were smart
Smart enough to avoid cars
And never fly that low
But I was wrong
The hawk flew straight into the car
Fell under its wheels
Majestic grey and brown feathers shattered
Scattered all around
Like the foam
Falling off the space shuttle
And just like that infamous Columbia foam
That dashed the wings of the shuttle
Dooming it to disintegrate upon reentry into the world
The bird was dashed upon the pavement
Feathers ripped from its body
Quivering, lying in the street
Waiting, waiting, waiting to die.



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