A Meditation on Chemical Death
Jeni Booker Senter
Jane answers her door wearing a floppy pink cap.
Her baby chick hair peeking out over one ear.
She tells me to come in, sit down, visit for a while.
Her eyes glisten as she eases down slowly into her chair
while my eyes are drawn to that patch of fuzz.
I remember her hair, glossy, black, sharply styled
when she would pick me up on Sunday mornings.
I glance at her hands, marred by fresh puncture wounds.
Her hands were thin, beautiful, long,
playing the piano and weaving baskets on Saturday evenings.
She tells me she is well, asks how I have been.
She wants me to go to church; I lie and say I will.
I can hardly sit still, keep looking her over
as if she were a still-life to study --
A meditation on chemical death.
The cancer came back.
It blossomed like a June rose
and spread like the vines of bluebells.
Deep into her armpits, through the lymphatic system,
burying itself deep into her brain and liver.
And now she rocks, gently rooted in her chair.
She smiles at me
while I bite my cheek and try not to cry.
Too soon it is time to go,
and she bends forward to kiss me.
I am amazed that she still smells like honeysuckles.