At Last Count
The cells multiply, coagulate, assemble
in lumps and masses, demand to be counted.
My doctors speak in centimeters and percentages,
then soften into metaphors. They sidle forward measuring
the quality of a life, pausing to leave gaps, blanks
that I am to fill in: “Wife. Mother. A teenage daughter.”
Things I am too stunned to remember, I send electronically, trying to transmit
my essence in the body of an email: poet, Appalachian girl, beekeeper.
Reply. Send. Forward. I spend days wondering how long the cells
have been amassing, signaling from below. I silently recount
any detail that might be – or might ever have been
significant: exposures, traumas, pangs and twinges.
I begin to catalogue everything I can remember: the color of rooms
in houses where I have lived, the voice of my father’s guitar.