the healing muse

Volume 11

I imagine the poison

—in memory of Margaret Launius

Jennifer Heatley

While you were sleeping on the way to chemo
that beautiful Friday morning
from the serene and loving quiet circling around us, I realized
that the thirty-nine-mile drive was only roughly 1/2500th
the length of the bloodways
of the body.

If they were to be unwoven and laid out,
they would circle around
this spinning gem of a planet
four times.

(And so would I walk
around this world
for a cure.)

I thought about the life blood of you
and while I sat beside you, with the new poison pumping
I tried with all my might to imagine that the poison was sunlight
shining through your veins with a warmth that heals
to the bone.

I imagined the poison was fresh, robust air
entering you through the medi-port window in your chest
blowing the cancer cells adrift as if they were simply dust
that had gathered on drapes.

I imagined the poison was like chicken broth, soup for the soul
glistening and golden with the sweet fatty innards of love,
floating full of the tender care of mothers, grandmothers,
daughters, sisters, and ancestors who believed
there was nothing that chicken stock
could not cure.

And I imagined the poison was like the water in Dorothy’s bucket
and that the cancer cells would shrink and melt
like the Wicked Witch
of the West.

And I imagined the poison was a long line-up of protestors marching,
holding flags that said “Peace Now!” and “Make Love,
Not War.”

In the line-up were veterans who donned welding masks
and melted their machine guns into a giant peace sign.

I protest this cancer.
And I chant to myself:
May peace be in this body.

Send in the sunlight.
Air. Water.
Chicken stock.
Protestors.
And peace.

I said a silent prayer while we were waiting for the oncologist.
I imagined that the poison was seed and soil.

(May life and landscape
begin sprouting up again.)

May these nesting grounds fill up with birds
fledging from the watershed
of spirit and hope.

May they rise up
through the branches of your body
and call out
with their song
of Life.


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