Woman, you who never wore a bra, you who never guzzled wine, now have dark birds and their shrouded nest in your tit, swollen stone eggs you thought were nothing until they were something. We were at the brink of gravity when we met, our blooms long spent. Still, we were radiant with that independence of women “coming into their own.” Hell’s din and swell had dimmed down to a dull roar. The struggle had found formidable and seasoned foe. Well, I watched you carry the skinny drunk chick upstairs from the building backyard, holding your favourite shawl over her wet jeans on behalf of her dignity. I watched you fight like a lion for me when I made a wrong turn, and gave all my love to the wrong man. I took up your flag when a mutual friend you thought could love you, could not love you, after all. It cut us both to pieces. You boiled water until it was hissing spit, tossed tea into the cauldron, mothered my wounds with theophylline and honey. I sheltered you when her door was locked, when things turned mean. We would stake out the city from one end to the other in the caustic cold of February, or hike to Spadina to slurp spicy pork bone soup like starved and frozen explorers. And here we are, now, face to face, after everything, taking on the inevitable. It is now, or it is later, but it is what is. This wild unwinding, this unknown known. Now we await the results of scans, configure charts, see signs in winter flight, in the shrill shudder of fate and her unmoored mutterings. I can’t imagine you sick or not there, beg you to stay. You tip your feathers to the wind, say what will be, will be.
by Lorette C. Luzajic, first appeared in Pretty Time Machine (Mixed Up Media, 2020).
Editor’s Note: This prose poem uses startling imagery to press the gravity of a desperate medical diagnosis into the reader’s mind. Like life, the end of the narrative is not quite grief nor certainty, but rather the ongoing struggle put in words.