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.”
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.
Upon the Ruin
Watching a Woman From Across the Room
The Red Car
After the War