Ich bin Allein
'Cancer is a rare and still scandalous subject for poetry; and it seems unimaginable to aestheticize the disease.'
Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor
It is in every part.
Nothing can be cut off or out.
A steady suddenness.
It isn't Keats
It is this body
nurturing its own determined death.
I will find out how much pain is in this body
and I will not behave myself.
It isn't fit for poetry
poets create their own mythology
there is no choice.
My friends have all gone home.
I'm in the dark half-light. I am alone.
There is so much uncertainty in this.
Not only do my cells break all the rules -
they leave me scratching for an epitaph.
I've made a shortlist out of pain and death.
In hospital there was a man across
the corridor who had the same disease.
Because his blood had shifted to acute
I had a view of what I would become.
He lived his days and nights at sea in bed
and though he was unconscious, he could groan.
The words he knew by heart were pain and death.
That's where my shortlist had its origins.
The pain will make my life a simple thing,
and death will take the things I didn't own.