Diagnosis

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Diagnosis
(sonnet)

Diagnosed with a terminal illness
called life, I know it will end in death.
For more than seventy years, that end
has lived within me, walked beside me,
sat at my bedside, and shared my sheets.

We have shared so many things: laughter,
joy, victory, defeat, the soul’s dark night,
the winding ways of fortune’s labyrinth.
When cancer called, we faced it together,
and life won out for a little while longer.

Hand in hand, we are together again,
our ménage à trois, engaged in a three
-legged race, blindfolded, unsure of who,
what, why, where, and especially when.

Y Ddraig

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Kingsbrae 15.2
15 June 2017

Y Ddraig

“Here there be dragons!”
The old maps used to say.
A sea-serpent decorated those maps,
a kraken, perhaps, or another monster
drawn from the depths of the unconscious.

In Wales there used to be dragons.
Old massive bones rose to the surface,
long ago, and there were skulls
and other artefacts lurking in the coal seams
that snaked through dark mines.

The fear of dragons is still within us.
We know they can fly in from nowhere,
setting fire to the crops, burning the houses,
killing people in an unequal battle in which
one party can fly while the other
can only run and hide,
or else burn publicly in the open streets,
Guy Fawkes figures in their multiple bonfires,
flaring in those deadly white phosphor flames.

Bonfires and bone-fires:
I have also seen the Cancer Dragon
growing within the human body
and burning the poor patient alive,
from the inside out.

Y Ddraig Coch:
the Red Dragon of Wales:
long may he stay on our flag
and rule the skies from his flagpole.
Those who wish for the dragon’s return
yearn indeed for sadder, madder, darker days.

Comment: Another ‘raw’ poem, but one that I have been thinking about for some time. It was driven from the back to the front of my mind by Carlos’s photo of the dragon in Kingsbrae Gardens. Carlos is my photographer and travels far and wide, taking photos that he then shares with me. I am very grateful to him for this sharing. I usually work my photos on the IMac, but here I am working with a PC that I am only just beginning to understand. There are so many new things happening that it is difficult to keep pace with them all. Oh yes, and this poem is an allegory [a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another, definition from dictionary. com], but I am not sure that I know what the hidden meaning actually is.

Bistro 1 Flash Fiction

Babs

It was March the First, St. David’s Day.

Babs held the cat in her arms. The vet slipped the needle into the shunt he had inserted into the animal’s paw and the tiny wind of life gusted from the cat’s fragile body. The struggle ceased. The cat’s head settled and her tongue protruded, just a little, in that beloved and well-known gesture. It was all over.

Babs had found that lump, hard, but smaller than a pea, on New Year’s Day. The next day, she carried the cat to the vet where they took blood samples and ran tests. The vet’s assistant called later that afternoon. A lymphoma, she said, small but deadly. Steroids might help. They would give the cat a 40% chance at a life that would get more difficult, in spite of any known treatment. The alternative was to bring her back in and put her down now, that very afternoon. Babs looked at the cat: highlights strayed through her fur and her bright eyes sparkled like sunshine on a lake.

Throughout January the steroids went in and the cat glistened and grew fat. At first, Babs saw no sign of the lump but by Robbie Burn’s Day it was back. Babs started to count the days: January 31, February 2. The lump grew larger.

Three years before, on Valentine’s day, Babs had salvaged the cat from the SPCA where she languished, abandoned in a cage. The cat was a stray, half feral, taken in from the streets and subject to who knows what sort of treatment and feeding in its infancy. Babs wondered if it was in those days of neglect that the cancerous seed took root? Or did those seeds come later, when the cat wandered the garden and fed off the wild life, mice and voles, and drank from the streams that flowed through the killing fields with their fertilizers, their weed killers, their nutrients, and their poisons?

“What are we doing to ourselves,” Babs wondered as she sat at the kitchen table and sipped a cup of tea. “Was my cat the canary in my coalmine, doomed to warn me of what’s to come? Will my own system be invaded then poisoned with cancerous growths? Will I be subject to that stumbling, downward road that leads in the end to an inevitable death?”

She lay awake that night alone in the bed wondering in what ways cancer might ravage her body. How long would chemotherapy keep her alive? Who would be there for her, who would hold and comfort her, who would slip that releasing needle into her veins when her time came?

Babs ran her fingers over her body as she imagined herself sliding day by day down that slippery slope that leads to the grave. Then she caught her breath, her heart raced, and her blood turned to ice as her fingers tripped against the colony of killers: three small hard lumps that nested in her soft breast.