Cancer: A Poem In Three Acts


Act I: The Secret

You look at yourself
Too afraid to admit
What you found out today, 
While sitting in a cold room
In a white walled hospital.

You went by yourself.
It’s nothing, you whispered to yourself.
I’m fine you say.

While cancer eats away at every good cell you have.

The doctor says cancer.
You say, okay.

You come home,
You make us brownies.
You smile at our jokes
You hug us
You fill our bright house with laughter.

I wish I could have bottled up our last good day.

Act II: Dying

Your bones rattle when you walk.
You’re cold.
You haven’t had a full head of hair since our last good day.

Where our house once smelled like chocolate chip cookies
It now smells like decay.

We all walk through clouds of sadness.
We build our walls
Too afraid to speak to one another.

We were a family once.
We all remember that.
But the memory grows fainter with each day that passes.

We used to hug without holding on for dear life
Afraid that when we let go…
We would have to realize that goodbye was soon.

Act III: The Aftermath

We cry.
We look around at our life.
When we dry our tears,
We see the remnants of a natural disaster
An earthquake,
That rocked us off our foundation.

We don’t let anyone past the fault line.

People bring food, flowers, and well wishes.
They leave it on the porch.
Our house is silent.

We were a family once,
We still remember that.

It’s silent.
You can feel our hearts cracking in every part of our home.

Until one day,
I hear the sound of my father strumming his guitar.
The sound is the sweetest sound i’ve ever heard.
I hear the low hum of his voice
And I swear to god
Every wall in our home came down
Until we finally saw the sun.

My brother and I sat on the stairs
Not wanting to ruin the first good day we’ve had
Since our last good day.
We sat shoulder to shoulder

His voice rang out
Louder than I think even he expected.
Some old folksy tune
From a time long ago.
A song that I’m sure holds memories for some,
But for us it holds the missing piece of us.

We were a family once,
We still remember that.

We learn to tear down our walls,
The cloud of grief passes.
We are all able to really see each other again.
Our house is filled with laughter again.

It turns out,
I didn’t have to bottle up our last good day.

We bake sugar cookies.
We go to the beach.
We watch movies.
We make memories.
We create a new family.

We were a family once,
We still remember that.

Written By Ali Rae

Bio: I'm a poet, librarian, reader, amateur true crime sleuth, animal lover, who strongly believes that poetry has the ability to change lives, in both large and small ways.

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