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Rachel Sawaya


early through the glass doors
insisting on time to pick
at the magazines
joking with the receptionist
she doesn’t laugh
the doctor didn’t look you in the eye
when he called your name
the nurse had maroon hair
she strayed away from topic
he stayed dead on
explaining the procedure
the procedure, like it was a nose job
like it was a military move
like it was a series of logical steps
see cancer, and cut
he pulled up his rubber gloves
they said if I was going
to throw up, I should
please turn away
he laid you on your side
I know you won’t believe
me but you looked elegant
there with your arm bared to us
he began to cut a diamond
from your clean bicep
just a small bit of you
oh about three-and-a-half freckles’ worth
your skin hid strings
of white and plum,
the nurse drained
the wound with a plastic funnel
and explained the audacity
of her two children
she’s not vigilant enough
and a red rivulet runs down
soaks through the grey roses
on your shirt
never mind, you said
I asked if you were doing it for me
you said you weren’t
this invasion is entirely selfish
you want to teach
your old cells a lesson
he finished scooping out
his thimbleful of flesh
and pressed into the fat,
snugly against the muscle
he began sewing
you back together, first the needle
vanished into your arm, then
it peeked out, jumping higher
then it was nipping across
the surface of your skin and you looked
almost whole again shaking
from shock or cold
a little cancer is good for you,
the doctor said
call me if there’s swelling
I’ll see you in a few decades
and you said it didn’t hurt
but you touch the diamond
as though
it was something precious


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