Saturday, January 14, 2012
Who's That Girl?
Thinking of her alone in Boston, far from all the things she does to remind herself she's alive, valued, necessary -- the giving, the doing, the mothering, the wife-ing, the shopping, the cooking, the tending, the friending, the trying. Thinking of her in Boston with her collection of books, with her portable altar, with her solitary dinners, walking up flights of stairs, wandering through grocery store aisles wondering, white rice or brown in the radiation diet? Chard or kale? Afterward, all walked-out, back in her room that reminds her of dorm days decades past, working her swollen arm into a sleeve. Thinking of her every day lying back on the table, the scurry of technicians adjusting her position, the scurry of technicians out the heavy door and then her alone with the clicks and hums of the machine and the thoughts in her brain. Thinking of her alone on the table, lying still, counting the minutes: six. Imagining the enormous tonnage of a machine she's never seen, behind a wall of cement, thinking of her with the scientists, sitting in a seminar room, listening to their explanations, the technicalities, the evolution of this design. Thinking of protons. The invisible. Thinking of her as student, as studied. Thinking of her, one of 25 in the study. Thinking of the 24 others. Lucky to be selected. Thinking of the warp and weft of the word lucky in her context. The theory of relativity in terms of luck. Thinking of the hundreds of others cohabiting a lodge called "Hope," the others she seldom sees. How frightening and weird and even repulsive such a word becomes after cancer diagnosis. Hope: word dolled out by the cancer-free like a sample. Try some. Don't give up, keep it alive, don't lose it, don't sink. The thing with feathers. Thinking of her walking alone in the winter city in the rain, beyond prior knowledge, foregone conclusions, old metaphors, received notions, of hope. Hope too weak a word, too flimsy, for what's required of her. Hope too shoddy for the new architecture of her body, its unknown terrain. Hope too lame for the unknown country of who she is now. Her kind of hope has raven's wings. Wings of an albatross, who never stops flying. Thinking of her there, on the sidewalks, among strangers, in the rain, so far beyond any puny idea of a feathery hope, I'll be wracking my brains all day inventing a new word for what she breathes and is. Thinking of her alone like that, solitary self, wings scorched from the the other world she's lived through and wet from her birth.