all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

the sacrifice




















I count myself lucky. It was just a few bad cells
threatening an inch-sized plot in the center of my forehead.
I did not run screaming as the roof of the house
I had built with my own hands came plummeting.
I did not watch my mother or daughter disappear
under the rubble. I did not lose a limb, or a life.
Hunger did not set in, the searing in the belly
driving me toward thiefdom. I did not have to wait
for the sky to drop cargoloads of dried beans.
I did not lose my shoes in the furious race
toward water. I did not find myself sitting
in the same row with a stranger who would,
in the name of martyrdom, destroy an entire busload
with a single detonation. I was not a soldier
patrolling a line in the sand on his first deployment,
fingers skittish on the trigger. I was not an orphan
raising siblings in a brutal tent city. I was not
that tent city, teeming with desperate acts of simple survival.
I was not held at knifepoint and robbed of my innocence.
I was not trampled in the heat of hysteria.
I was not sent to my death because of the God I prayed to.

No, I lay there, trusting of the hand slicing into me,
the scalpel so precise it would leave only a trace of itself
after the bleeding stopped and the stitches woven through.
In a week, I would tell the story of the operating table
like an offbeat joke. I would barely remember the trickle of blood
at my temple, the tug at my flesh. The debauched cells
I will have surrendered to the lab and I don’t suppose I will ache
for their return. I will think not of this as a sacrifice,
will forget the temporary frailty of my body to manage
its dissidents, will go on about my business with the same alacrity
and cheerful ignorance I have greeted every other day of my life.

But for now, with the sutures still embedded,
a fresh bandage I fashioned this morning,
and rectangles of tape holding the wound closed,
I am in that rubble. My boots shifty on the sand,
eyes scanning the clouds for the big planes
to come in with reinforcements.
I am sitting on that bus, doing my best to keep track
of who’s climbing the steps and what they’re carrying.
I am keeping a close watch on my water supply,
listening for sinister footsteps behind me,
praying to a busy God for a scrap of salvation,
everything in me clinging to the uncertain, inexplicable fact
of living.

6 comments:

GailNHB said...

I am certainly glad and grateful that you have been granted the possibility of clinging to the uncertain, inexplicable fact of living. Sorry for the cells you had to sacrifice, but glad that you were able to get them taken away.

Let the healing begin - and continue.

margie said...

your progress now will be up and better, one fresh cell at a time replacing the rotten ones. be well.

Andrea said...

Bless your cells.....

auburnette said...

I cannot express my gratitude in any way that will truly convey just how thankful I am for your writing.

All I can say is 'thank you'. And I'm glad you're all right. Hope you're feeling better soon.

littlegypsy. said...

brilliant! i wish great health to all your cells!

Anonymous said...

Just surrendered a few cells this morning myself. Hope all is well with you and new cells are forming. Your words continue to illustrate my life.

-g