Longing and Belonging

Photo:  Bill Olen

Bill Olen

My body and I, we embrace as longtime lovers; our betrayals squeezed between us like a jealous dog. The longer we hold each other, the farther apart we stand, until fingertips barely touching, we are nearly out of each others’ reach. I yearn to slip inside her – as familiar as a dolphin in the sea. I wake up fighting the sheets, but it’s not sheets, it is the scar tissue stretched across my chest like tight plastic wrap that is suffocating me.

I long for her; my old body. I miss loving her. I miss the ease and pleasure I used to have with her. I long for her unconscious grace, the sexy way her biceps were defined after a work-out. Cut. She was cut. So buff! I was so in love with her.

Today I limp like an old woman when I stand up, my feet are numb. My arm swells sometimes like an old door, creaking from my fingertips to my ribs, 1, 2, 3, 4… all my ribs, tight like a drum. The drugs that protect me from cancer also make sex like having a cactus enter my body. We’ve uneasily struck a million dollar bargain. I would beat her in my frustration and fury – yet I owe her everything.

You belong here, she insists. You could’ve been gone by now, and you might as well be grateful to me that you aren’t. I’m the one who worked so hard, I was the one who was cut and scarred, burned and tortured – and yet I endured, recovered – and with less damage and more capacity than most people, I might remind you.

Yeah, I could have been gone by now, I snap irritably, since it was you that manufactured those silently multiplying tumors that spread like mushrooms, thanks so much for that.

How to live with the betrayal?


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