In the Shower

And so what about this lump?
Funny little kids’ word, lump.
Not so funny to find one in the shower.

What to do first?
Breathe first –
don’t panic –
don’t think of a hospital room
and a morphine drip,
a three a.m. phone call
with news that’s inevitable
but still a heart-rending,
knee-weakening punch.

Turn off the water.
Don’t spend too long
with your face in the warm towel:
too easy to collapse in tears.

Don’t look in the mirror:
the shock reflected will send you to the floor.

Get dressed.
Do it quickly; don’t linger,
or your mind will drift
to a day in July
when the people of a small town
formed a line of love and loss
that went out the doors and down the block
and halfway around the next
just to say goodbye.

Go to the phone –
the number’s right there –
good girl.
Don’t notice that your hands are shaking;
make an appointment.
Don’t let your voice tremble –
it’s nothing:
just a funny little word.

Such a long time;
so long to wait
before someone can say,
“You needn’t have worried,
it will be okay.”
So now all there is to do
is wait and not tell anyone
until you can say,

“Oh, I was concerned for a while,
but it turned out to be
Nothing at all.”

So don’t make anyone scared for you.
Just sit with your hands clasped
and watch the minutes tick past
and try not to think.

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