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Moonyean in America


doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000337627.12367.9a
Poetry by Cancer Caregivers

The world of poetry is a means of expression and source of comfort for many who care for cancer patients. We welcome submissions from oncologists, oncology nurses, oncology pharmacists, and other cancer caregivers. E-mail only, please, to:, and include your affiliation/title, address, and phone number, along with a photo, if available.

Moonyean came to America

lugging a tumor the weight of a promise.

When she was, she was 30,

Claire's mother, Alan's wife.

A celtic beauty with a fissured reality.

The crab doweled to an ovary.

The cure waiting in America.

I met her. I loved her.

She ate my porkchops,

kissed my daughter,

lit firebees in my gut.

We fused as painlessly as lace through shoe,

forging an heirloom necklace

of Gordian knots.

We owned what we saw.

Ink-black hair. Marmoreal skin.

Her body, fragile and throttling.

Mine, inert and hale.

We could have been sisters, I thought,

twins born moments apart.

Noreen and Maureen

snapping beans in the kitchen.

Ma chopping onions for Da.

Our prattle,

burnished poetry, prizes for the ear.

But we weren't.

We were moonyean and colleen.

Squeezing hands.

Sharing antiseptic air.

Fastened elbow to elbow

in a hospital waiting room

waiting to hear Go home. You're fine

waiting to hear Go home. It's over

misapproaching death and disease

in fixed crosscurrents.

I was deadsure she would never die.

Moonyean returned to Lisburn, insides out.

Exoneration, American-style, at the teeth of a knife.

Ninety-eight percent of the crab extracted.

A severed pincer twitching in the blackness.

She sent me a postcard.

Scabrous cliffs cutting into a sloppy sea.

On holiday in Antrim.

Atta girl, Maureen.

It's raining, she wrote.

Here, too, I thought.

An envelope,

grey and crumpled,

arrived mid-March.

Inside, lifeshreds

of her luminist days,

her deadlines and grindstones,

her last Christmas.

She was buried on her wedding day.

Moonyean in a jewel box.

At dawn, I sat in her chair

as I had once seen her sit

valiant and prescient

arms across abdomen

not hugging, but containing,

what gives us life

what took her life.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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