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From The Properties of Dust

Lines Above - Springwater Trail, Portland, Oregon.  February 9, 2011 - www.aflitt.com

I never wanted to know what the word Oncology meant.

I never wanted to know what chemotherapy I.V. bags

looked like, with their huge poisonous substance logos

and their “wear protective clothing when handling”


I never wanted to know about the process of killing

the body to save the body.

I never wanted to know about these things.

I never wanted one of those phone calls; the relative

you haven’t seen in a half-dozen Christmases, that

edge in their voice-- “Something is wrong,” and, “He’s

very ill,” and, “three days.”

I never wanted to make four connections on a flight

that usually only requires one. “Sorry, sir, but

that’s all we can do on such short notice. Maybe if

you’d made your reservations earlier...”

I never wanted to pray before, and I’ve never wanted

to have to run so fast that I didn’t even have time to


I never wanted to feel relief seeing him

when I walked into a room.

I never wanted to be so happy to see him at all.

I never wanted to be so thankful that he looked only

near death, and I never wanted to hear his voice, so

distant, as he said, “ah, yes,” and, “I’m sorry,” and,

“I love you.”

I never wanted him to accept these things so easily.

How could he? He never accepted anyone in his life.

I did not watch medical shows. I did not listen to

certain albums. I did not read certain writings. I

skipped over this article and that article and I still feel

afraid whenever I have to push the large blinking

button on my answering machine.

I never wanted to fear certain voices.

I never wanted to mark the passage of time as the

space between phone calls.

I never wanted to contemplate the words “bone marrow transplant.”

I never wanted to hear about “risky, experimental

procedures” that, he said, “would save me from the 


I never wanted to hear about his “agonizing moral 


I got drunk and stayed that way before getting sober

and staying that way before staying in bed for three

days, not moving and barely breathing.

I never wanted to hear about “the massive kill off,”

as he put it, followed by “the procedure.”

I never wanted any of it, and I could barely stand

hearing about it, and sometimes I refused to do so,

not answering my phone for weeks at a time.

I never wanted to accept that the kill could come before the cure.

I told those who already knew.

I told those who needed to know.

I told them, “Don’t feel sorry for me, I don’t need it. I’m the one who’s alive.”

No Trespassing - Sherars Bridge Hwy. Oregon. April 12, 2013 - www.aflitt.com

The Properties of Dust

The Properties of Dust was a small book I put together in 2005 for a desktop publishing class at Portland State University. Many of these pieces were written specifically for the book project, and the rest date back to as early as 1990. The pieces were accompanied by a photo or two in the original book, but, in most cases, I am using different, more recent, photos with this series of posts.


The Well




The Properties of Dust




Upon the Ruin




Watching a Woman From Across the Room


First Snow

Antarctic Whispers


Bedtime Prayer


The Red Car

Something Lost



After the War



Love Poems

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Rubble by A. F. Litt


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