Sunday, March 1, 2009


(A tribute to my friend May, who received a death sentence from her doctor. He was off by about twenty years. She wore her pink survivor's ribbon with honor and joy.)

One day the doctor told May
"Your turn for a wasting disease"
but she refused to let him
prop her ribcage up a tree just yet.
Instead, she began eating her head off.
She lived on lard, all her nerve endings
sheathed in rosy fat.
She dunked her rosette curls
into butter tubs of gluttony.
She spit on her bad gut, her bad heart,
and all but the most sumptuous
deadly sins.
The doomy wag of the doctor's tongue
had twisted her to the roots, but
closer to the earth
she prized up gobs of tubers, anklets of peanuts,
and embraced whole racks of lamb.
She saw the doctor chop bits most cherished
from other patients. Savagely physicked,
they crawled to the cooling board.
May ate steadily forward,
never putting a foot wrong,
gilding every jiggle, dimple and crease.
On appointment days the doctor would look at her,
sitting on two chairs, her big smile
smelling of pie and ham fat,
and the old skull would fall silent.

(originally published in The Georgia Review)

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of a comment our Medical Director made the other day about how one should starve a cold and feed cancer. It's amazing how long some people live after a fatal DX.