I Want

When you are 52,
you tell yourself
that you are not like
your grandmother,
and her mother too,
who died young
of stomach cancer.
No, you are like Grammie
who lived to be 92
with the same
pear shaped body
and varicose veins
that you wear while you
are cooking your organic
garden greens
and walking the dog.
Then your neighbors,
two at the same time,
have cancer.
They start counting their lives
in months,
not years.
You watch the leaves float
and fall from the sycamore.

Prompts: Believe it or not, this started out with Margo’s prompt to make a list of “I want…” things.  Long life and health were on the list and they took over the poem.  It’s been a hard week for me, coming to terms with the illness of these neighbors — one quite young, the other certainly not old.

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14 thoughts on “I Want

  1. Interesting, Annette. Despite the somber tone, isn’t it fascinating where a poem will go? I like the progression through the poem. Try one thing, try it without the last line, so that the final image is of Autumn. It’s a strong image and holds the last line in its symbolism.

  2. I have had a similar experience and I can relate. Life is a gift of our days. Lifestyle sometimes helps. And also sometimes ‘genes’ inherited. Sending hugs and healing thoughts…

  3. This whole week has been pretty melancholy for me too (and cancer has found its place in it as well). There are so many complicated currents running underneath this one: fear, hope, determination, guilt, sorrow, beauty. I can’t think of any better way to fan them all out at the end than that pregnant image of the sycamore. Excellent stuff.

  4. Annette…the tears flow for you..for us for them…I find that I’m in the same situation…sort of this week. Uterine cancer in a good friend. She was given two days and two weeks later…well it is what I finally found a few words to express also.

    Thank you, for writing this Annette. So much compassion. ❤

  5. Annette, how difficult. Your poem is so full of compassion. And Hannah is going through the same thing. I TOTALLY LOVE the sycamore lines at the end of this poem – it widens the perspective to autumn, which sort of companions the journey
    your friends are making.

  6. Annette, it is so hard to come to terms with other people’s mortality issues; as they also remind us that there but for the grace of God go we. It could be us; and someday it will be. That is what I think each time I hear of someone with cancer or some other dreaded disease. Meanwhile we must live each moment and be thankful for our health when we have it.

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