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  • There are many people praying
    (even Congregationalists in Connecticut)

    and a candle lit before the Madonna and Child,
    and prayer chains with my name on them

    and Novenas being said in Rome, in Lourdes,
    and others sitting in silence and holding me there.

    And so many people “holding good thoughts”
    and “sending positive, healing energy.”

    Then this question comes in over the web:
    “Is there an image you’d like me to carry for you?”
  • It makes one think, that question.
    I know that I am imagining the cancer

    in the lining of my ovaries, as mold blossoms,
    the kind that gets on shower walls

    (I’ve never been much of a housekeeper),
    or like the inside of a kiwi, based on a photo

    I saw of cancer cells swimming under a microscope
    combined with the sight of the fluid from my lung,

    and the chemo as this powerful cleanser, on the order
    of Drano, or a powerful mix of bleach and scrubbing bubbles,

    (which no one wants to have in their bloodstream,
    but you have to admit it does a specific job very well)

    poured via port into my jugular vein to wash out
    all that residue, that slime of cancer, wherever it is.

    So that my lungs can clear of fluid, and my ovary walls
    will show no more bright spots on the PET scan.
  • But that’s not what this person means.

    OK then, how about my soon-to-be bald head
    and my smile, (leave the eyebrows intact, please,)

    and since I shaved my head once back in 1996, for fun,
    I know that I have a well-shaped skull, so there is that,

    and an elderly woman in the grocery store said to me last year:
    “Oh, what dimples! How lucky—you will always have your dimples.”
  • But that’s not what she means. She means some totem
    to carry as in her pocket that would say “healing,” or “journey,”

    and all I can think of is a jade turtle, or a soapstone frog,
    or an ivory heron, or a well-sanded wood swan.

    Or the paths in our prairie after a burn,
    or five chickens coming around the side of the house,
    or the cry of the sandhill cranes, or pea sprouts, or a radish seed.

    Or carry a smooth pebble in your mouth,
    or a shell worn to abalone shimmer by the sea,
    and taste the salt, or I mean, a pearl.

    I don’t know at all what image she should carry.
    I don’t know what God looks like, just that God is everywhere.
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