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Chronic illness has been my enemy for several years. Now I am trying to make friends with it.
The (rather prosaic) poem below was written early in my struggle:
I've become the princess I disdained as a child. I'll prove my
royal blood; put twenty mattresses between me and that pea.
My bones will feel its sharp, hard curve, here, at the small
of my back. I am only sick, I am not dying, no faster
than I was before. I want to stretch my muscles across
the cool length of the blue pool. I want to walk four miles a day
in the rainforest, through the cedars, beneath the eagles and herons.
I want to laugh from the middle of my belly so hard my breasts
bounce. I want to throw Clancy's ball one hundred times in a row.
Instead, I consider the purchase of a stylish cane, one with an animal
head to hold in my aching hand. I've become cranky and rude. I eat
off paper plates, drink from plastic glasses. China and silver fade
under dust on the shelves. I want to be back where I was before.
I want to wrap my legs around another body. I want to earn hard
breathing. I want to build my own garden wall, bend to place
seeds in the black earth with my own hand. I want to wake
in the quiet morning glad for the day in front of me and the dreams
behind. I want to lie in the sun all long afternoon, hot and easy and
dazed by good fortune. I want to bicycle down the hill with Elizabeth.
How do others move through this with such grace and good manners?
My days are short as winter solstice, even in summer heat. I have no
desire left, except for sleep, solitude, a feathered bed. No, sorry, I'm
too tired, too many people at parties, too much noise in the streets.
There is no prince. There is no heaven. There is no sleep.
[These long lines look better on Oratory, here.]