The horse has been let out of the stable,
was how they explained it. The surgeon opened a door
and it bolted straight for your heart. The horse
is a tumor, you see, muzzle at your left lung.
Like an animal, it doesn’t know any better.
Holistic believers told you to poison it
with cilantro and for weeks your mouth and fists
were green as insurance. These were the same people
who advised me to bring bells, salt and stale bread
into our new home so that ancestors could bless us and feast.
The house was infested with tiny white moths to feed,
enough to believe they had been sent to chew the cancer right out.
Never could get used to hospital rooms and their imposition
of a stadium or a Honeymoon Suite, the fray of recurrence.
It was Winter, in its palliative uniform, that brought sleep.
Your hair: monastic. Your hands: dulled. Every cell like an oar
on a Trireme. Terato, your ancestors named it.
Monster. Oma, a mass. To marvel at a mass of monsters.
Even the cats, moaning at the mornings, moaned
as a Greek chorus. But you, you read whodunits aloud
and gave me the eyes of a lady noire, eyes like wet stones. Eyes
like strange sins. Benign structures threw themselves like damsels
against the skyline, water towers and steeples that had been there
all along now seemed more auspicious to the plot.
The tumour was a Brasher Doubloon, something that could be
discovered, retrieved and returned. Your cells rearranged themselves,
set your scalp to the promise of Spring, gave your hacking hands
a leather glove and placed you on the diamond. Maybe the game
had your ancestors in mind all along, our hearts sloping
towards nostos, inning after inning of mercy, mercy, mercy.
Katie Jordon completed her MFA in creative writing at the University of Guelph. Her debut chapbook, Commentary on a Non-Existent Self-Portrait, was published by Frog Hollow Press in 2012. Her work has appeared in journals such as Prairie Fire, Contemporary Verse 2 and Carousel. She lives in Toronto.