September 14th, 2020
| Survivor: Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer survivor Blake Lynch has written two new poems to share with the community. We hope that they both resonate with you.
In Robert Wiles photograph, taken several minutes
after a bookkeeper jumped from the 86th floor
of the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building,
a woman in a dark suit is lying on the top of a car,
her right hand pulling at the collar of her dress,
as if to give her soul more room to escape,
but her head is tilted to the side as if she is listening
to some music from another room, but all she heard
in the last moments was likely a woosh, as the windows,
clouds, and birds all turned to gray around her.
The metal of the car looks easily crushed,
like it was nothing more than a blanket.
And today, because I know so little about the woman,
besides a black and white photograph that can not change,
I read how the woman was engaged but didn’t want
to be anyone’s wife, and how her fiance moved to Florida,
and even though he still had a whole life, never remarried.
If someone breaks your heart, as clearly as that,
I can only imagine that you would spend fifty years,
trying to talk to a palm tree that looked like a ghost,
until you end up like a horn bent so far, that not even
a single clear note can blow out. No doubt, the man
knew other people who would have listened to a story
so horrific, and if there weren’t, I’m sure there were
miles of bars, but he probably ended up speaking
to areca, who understood him even better than
a glass of whiskey on the rocks. And so he was,
for many years, in the middle of his life, in the middle
of the war, confusing a palm tree for a woman he loved.
But, look, I made the part about the tree up,
and maybe now that the man and woman are dead,
it’s wrong to use their story to say anything,
maybe the man was perfectly happy alone,
maybe he grew tired with the whine of New York City
and left his job for a more relaxing life, and
maybe he never remarried because he preferred the bachelor’s life.
Maybe it would be far better to take your perspective
on your hurt and the world and use that to explain
why the man died in Florida, an old man who was alone,
unless, of course, that would lead to an even worse conclusion,
or in having stripped this poem of that ending, you will
view this as trite bullshit, or even worse, that I have said
Nothing at all.
Once, I carried a mass of cancer around in my testicle,
and by the time I went to the doctor, the disease had spread
to my lymph nodes, my abdomen, my lungs, and though
it saved my life to do it, by the end of the procedure,
my whole body had changed, to the point that I was sterile,
and as I lie in bed this autumn morning, I realize that no matter
how long I talk to the trees, I will never have a son.
So, I sit on the back porch, where the rain during the night,
has soaked through each cardboard box left out, until
the weight bears down on itself, and sometimes that happens
when you tell yourself the truth, no matter how hard I sing,
I will never see my face in anyone else, it is a difficult thing
to accept, but maybe it is just as well.
That man, he was a scavenger out in the wilderness,
he was trying to find answers to why something
got taken from him, that never should, and he ended
up at midnight, on a street, hearing the silence sing
out of a palm tree. And I imagine that, like the ocean
came back to tide, as night fell purple and blue,
was whether the woman clutched her shirt,
to make sure her soul flew loose before she died,
or whether someone had merely placed it there.
"The Dog On Your Street"
Is scared, because he’s never seen this neighborhood with no one loitering outside,
and no cars with broken mufflers fumbling through the neighborhood.
He doesn’t know what to make of the mail left stuck outside of our mailbox,
the crumpled toilet paper coupon that has blown around in the street all day,
What good is it now when no one leaves their house all day?
Think of the rain that fell down on the row houses,
consider how strange it must have felt, to find none of us there are any longer.
It will remain the land,
It will remain black trees branches running against the sky,
water falling down a side of the hill,
as it did two months ago
when I crumpled up a wrapper
and threw it in the public garbage can.
The leaves dance like a woman I knew once,
like a woman who has not gone anywhere,
not really, she locked herself in her house, and was afraid of the wind.
This is a dull journey not lived beyond these four walls,
and even that will be sad again, when this is over,
when this becomes just a house again.
When my body becomes just broken knees,
belly all gone,
instead of a dark plot of land,
from which the fire can come,
to make me nothing again.
I lie down in the bedroom,
the dog on your street will bark in the morning again,
Every man I meet now will be called friend,
I will not be allowed to touch his hand, I will love
the next stranger’s face I see will be either through glass or six feet away,
and for a moment, I will worry about something unknown,
fluttering, that could come to live in my body,
but I will trust him.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
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