by Micaela Walley
When you told me he had cancer
and I said Okay
what I meant to say was 76 seems
so far away from 100
and he is supposed to live
because that seems like a fair exchange
for a life of cleaning swimming pools
and mowing lawns for rich people. What I mean is
I can’t say I’m sorry
because that doesn’t exactly make sense.
Sorry seems like a band-aid, and you don’t
put a band-aid on cancer. You nuke that shit
of the body, and as much as I’d like to pretend
that words are nuclear, they so often fall
shorter than the task at hand.
Like rectal cancer.
What could be taller than that?
What I mean is what could be worse
than having to acknowledge that you live in a body,
having to write it a thank you note
at the end of each day? What is there
to be grateful for when someone you love
is in pain? How can someone
like a doctor not prescribe hope
to a dying old man
like he will not, at some point, be a dying
old man—mouth open wide, back against the void
chewing at anything that could potentially be digested
into something like, “yes, there is plenty of time.”