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RADIOTHERAPY

Silence waits on my schedule,
Bright with invisible needles.
At the cutting edge of the possible
The clinical machines are waiting,
The statistical spin is waiting:
A white space and an outcome.

Radiation.
The internal probe.
The deep destroyer.
Igniting
The brain,
Burning
The cancer,
Incinerating
Some part of my intellect.

I will sacrifice
For the chance of a happy outcome,
Propitiating a god
Who gives no refunds,
Who carries no insurance,
Who gives no guarantees.

The actual process
Will be credit card painless.
Silent as bankruptcy.
An action
With no audible hammer,
With no banner of outcomes,
The first results a blankness,
A disconnect,
Initially truculent, nonconfessing,
Mute as the uncut wire.

I imagine myself, then,
At the outset.
Committed to the process.
I am a lottery ticket
Tiptoeing across the cymbals of consequence
Into the mousetrap future.

I imagine the first days.
Some done, much more still to do.
Two and two is still more than three and a half.
But damage must have become,
And damage, more,
Must be inevitable.
And how much damage?

A world away from kisses,
The open mouth of my outcome:
Human, still, and competent,
Or a maimed broccoli,
Uncertain of rodent versus rabbit.

Reality is no longer a sugar lump.
Instead,
I am walking on shadows,
Never quite knowing
Which shadow might possibly collapse.

This poem RADIOTHERAPY was first published when posted online by Hugh Cook on 2005 April 15 Friday. Copyright © 2005 Hugh Cook.

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