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The Sign of Cancer

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000516163.17623.90
Poetry Corner

I read the newspaper's horoscope

at the breakfast table between my coffee

and husband. He says, read me

the sign of Cancer, but we are both

Leos—strong. Strong enough

to laugh at cancer. Diagnosis day three.

First came the lump, like the kind I now find

stuck in the back of my throat from tears,

except his was in the armpit. Felt funny.

He found it while shaving. I found it

when I curled into him under the sheets.

I yelled because he hadn't told me.

Second and third, diagnosis and treatment.

We're not laughing after a month, out of fear

not reading the horoscope or talking between coffee.

When I reach for his hand, it's gone,

clasped in his lap, away from me.

It's on my skin, he says. Everywhere

in my body, and on my skin most of all.

What if it's contagious? How can I tell

him I love him even so? I wait, and he cannot

walk. I wait, and he cannot feed himself. I wait,

and we have hospice, and his body is heaving black

growths. In his muscles and his lymph. Everywhere.

Last, I kiss him,

his mouth and his skin

and his cancer most of all.

I wish I could love even that.

—Sophia Valesca Görgens, MD Candidate

Emory University School of Medicine

Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
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