The Language of Cancer
by Jean Trounstine

    Where was it hiding, this malignancy,
    this cylindrical core of disease?
    Was it in some dense breast tissue cluster
    a tangle of glands masking its
    perineural invasion?
    What is it doing now, in its home
    beneath my skin?
    Rapidly growing she says and
    I imagine cells, tripping over themseves to
    get somewhere.
    Why have they settled in my body?

    I glance across the desk at the doctor
    drawing pictures. I don’t want to know
    my options. My niece could do better
    than these crayon sketches,
    a breast with a line across it,
    a chest barren on one side and next to it
    as though suspended in air, a cone.
    She labels them technical sounding words
    but truthfully, they all spell slice,
    lumpectomy, mastectomy, breast reconstruction.
    She tells me You’re lucky,
    there’s nothing in your lymph nodes.
    I know better now than to jump
    at any good news.

Copyright © 2021 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.