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Survival by Jenny Hollifield
 

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  • A microscopic and single-minded spermatazoa fights its way upstream,
    forcefully embeds itself, and morphs into an ovate clump of cells
    resulting in a viable zygote
    and life begins

    A tiny baby gasps its first breath outside the damp darkness of the womb,
    blinks blindly and hungrily roots for the nub which will provide
    comfort and nourishment over the coming months
    and life grows

    A small child turns the pages of a picture book for the hundredth time,
    neural pathways form, connections are made, recognition dawns
    words take shape and are read aloud
    and life expands

    A serious young man in a white coat with a sheaf of papers in his hands
    speaks solemnly using your name and cancer in the same sentence
    as if they are somehow conjoined
    and life stands still

    Such a small word, formed by five of the most common letters in the English
    alphabet,
    Insignificant by itself but capable of sucking all the air from the room
    in one short breath
    and life, the way it was, is no more.

    Bright lights, antiseptic smells, blurry voices intruding upon a dreamless slumber,
    wires and tubes interfere with the ability to move and talk and pee,
    pain becomes a trusted companion
    and life begins
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