I’m standing at the crosswalk of a crowded street,
bumping shoulders against strangers, waiting
for the green light to signal us to move along
and go about our way, and the cars rush on by
with a rhythmic hum of engines buzzing left and right—
just as the doctor’s words had echoed and ricocheted
against whirring computer monitors and machines.
And the disposable white paper had crunched beneath me
with every shift and twitch of my sockless feet, dangling
from the cold, leather seat as I waited in that room;
a cool draft had numbed my toes, reminding me
of the thin cotton gown draped across my shell of blue
veins, splotched skin—running white to pink to red.
And I had cringed under the touch of his clammy fingers
examining my skin like a spider, first crawling quickly,
as if avoiding being seen; the word, cancer,
a distant murmur that I had refused to hear;
it was like a paper cut—
a seemingly simple, yet irreversible mistake of
skin splitting, parting like the sea in slow motion,
exposing the first bubble of red, oozing,
only to begin a steady flow downwards,
refusing to coagulate—spilling and drowning.
And the cars begin to slow, coming to a complete
stop, and I know I should cross the street
with the fellow strangers lost in a sea of laughter
and constant chatter, a type of noise that echoes
even in the silence. But realism whispers, infinitely;
the opening of fresh syringes, razor blades, and probes—
it’s always the whispers that haunt us, indefinitely.
And the room had smelled of disinfectants, the hairs
in my nose to the tip of my tongue tantalized
by the bitterness of biting an apple seed at its core,
until he pressed the razor blade against my skin,
pausing, and I lost my breath against the pressure
of what was and of what could be.
And like clockwork, the green light changes back to red,
and I am still standing at the crosswalk,
watching the way cars and people move along,
wondering how they make it seem so easy,
living on the dictation of “stop” and “go,”
on the infamous “yes,” and “no,”
but I am left waiting for the light to change. Again.