Every morning she swallowed three pills
with a glass of water while sitting up in bed. Every Monday
she walked into a clinic where they extracted three
teaspoons of blood into slender tubes. Her blood was the colour
of pomegranate guts, of a woodpecker’s bright crest plunging
through pine-scented forest. Sometimes
she would wait in a room with other faces until she heard
her name. At the end of each clinic day she would stare at a
backlit screen at home and watch numbers swim
past. The numbers were free-floating in her blood
like tadpoles newly burst from their jellied egg mass.
They were also free-floating on her screen thanks to the dark art
of information theory and transport.
It was all very abstract. Until the morning she swallowed
three numbers with a glass of pomegranate guts while sitting
in a backlit forest. Faces swam past in slender tubes. She ate eggs
with jelly straight off the teaspoon as she waited to be
transported through the dark arts. Information is
made of glass. Should it plunge into your free-floating
home it can never be extracted. But you will know the scent of blood
the colour of pine, the brightness of water, the clinical difference
between a woodpecker’s stare and a burst
screen. In a room of abstractions
every theory wears a pillbox hat. She took her bed for a walk.
At the end she heard three tadpoles call her name.
* * *
“The Patient” originally appeared in Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press, 2018).
Kim Goldberg is the author of eight books of poetry and nonfiction. Her latest book Devolution (surreal poems and fables) was released by Caitlin Press this year. Kim was diagnosed with CLL in 2016 and is currently on treatment. She spends her days wandering, writing, bird-watching, and refurbishing her vintage coal-miner’s cottage in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Twitter: @KimPigSquash. Devolution: https://caitlin-press.com/our-books/devolution/
Originally published in The CLL Society Tribune Q1 2021.