This particular metaphor will not be a worm in a shot glass of chemotherapy.
It will be invisible to the human eye, soundless to the human ear, free of smell and taste, and untouchable.
In this way it will connect historically to its struggle for autonomy along its long and winding road to androgyny. (Sounds like a Beatles song, but isn’t.)
The Big C was first discovered by Hippo-crates, the so-called “Father of Medicine,” circa 400 B.C., on the island of Greece.
Hippocrates did not really discover the Big C. He simply named something carcinoma that had existed for all time—before Eve, apples, crabby constellations.
I got caught in a thunderstorm yesterday that rolled south along the Rockies then turned left. I didn’t run. I stood still really fast. (Barry Allen) (A slightly gratuitous stanza.)
Here is an example of Big-C-Speak used by human oncologists: “One side effect of this marvelous new treatment is that your face might blow up…no, literally. Oh, and a large portion of your brain/pinkie toe/soul might fall off too.”
In real life—not this poem, in other words—I will indict docs for confidently treating non-treatable Big-C with myths that extend life for a few excruciating months or years then kill people anyway.
She must be crazy. (They will surely say of me.)
The Big C has been around for 3000 years.
Smarter than all of us? You think?
I predict a cure in the years to come, but not before my ghost comes back to slap the guilty (of farce & fabrication).
And although it remains to be seen if the Big C is sentient on some level, sometimes I hear it saying to itself, like a manic GPS: Turn left, no right!
Meanwhile, the crab nebula abides in Taurus, my grandson’s astrological home. By my latest approximations and predictions, he will be nine years old when I finally kick the Big B.
Maureen Seaton has authored twenty-one poetry collections, both solo and collaborative, most recently, Undersea (Jackleg Press, 2021), Sweet World (CavanKerry Press, 2019) and Fisher (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). Her awards include the Iowa Prize, Lambda Literary Award ("Lammy"), Audre Lorde Award, Sentence Book Award (with Neil de la Flor), an NEA fellowship, and the Pushcart. Her memoir, Sex Talks to Girls (University of Wisconsin Press 2008, 2018), also garnered a "Lammy." Seaton was Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Miami before her death on August 26, 2023.