Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Cancer Chronicles: Part 2, This is my Sundance

This is my Sundance

This is my sundance, my ritual
my flight

As I juggle my life
in an attempt
to rebuild my identity.

I am fourteen again,
discovering the Ching
and spending a liftetime learning
what those hexagrams mean.

I dance with angels and fairies.

There are magical encounters
with teachers and hawks.
Wolf comes to visit in dreams
over and over again, she will not
be ignored.
And soon,
we run together, play with crows,
walk in Medicine Wheels, and
Celtic labyrinths.
We journey with the drum,
my cottonwood ally,
my song to the Thunder Beings.

Old Taoist influence revisits,
showing me the Barefoot doctor way,
dreaming in a cloud of moxa smoke
and moving energy
balancing qi
with slender needles.

This was my sundance, my ritual, my flight.

In past life readings I am a nun,
again and again, the original nurse --
and so it would be in this liftetime.
My patients knew me by the cologne I wore,
walking into their darkened rooms
on the night shift.

Then death took my father, and
my flight went crashing
deep in the ocean
where I would drown
again and again.

Suicide seemed logical, but
two-doctor commitment orders over-rode 
my attempts to disappear.

No ritual, no dance.

The years would wash clean with tears.
Solitary road trips brought me back to life.

I relearned the dance.
I created sacred ritual.
I began to fly again.

Then one day, a lump stung my armpit, 
brought me to doctors.
A cyst, no doubt, was my conclusion.

Instead, my breasts
were removed.
Chemo exacted a cure.
Radiation was the cherry on top.
No evidence of disease, they said.

This helped me to fly, to dance.

Reconstructing my breasts
brought me a world of pain.

And death once again would rob me.
This time, my mother,
my confidante,
The one person who knew me
Inside and out.

And the cancer spread
to my spine and ribs,
the pain getting deeper,
I could not breathe,
the hospital became  my second home.

Fearful of the Ching's honest appraisal,
I don't throw the coins anymore.

I grow gaunt
Unable to walk a single block
without falling apart.

I'm crashing
I'm burning
I can't remember my song.

Afraid to sleep for fear
I won't wake
I push myself
to the limits of exhaustion.
I tell time by the next dose
of pain killers.

This is my sundance,
my ritual,
my flight in the
face of death.


  1. Wow Barbara - so honest and raw. You really can write!!

  2. A difficult but beautiful poem to read.

    Prayers continue to ascend.

  3. this poem is so powerful I hope you are able to share it beyond your blog. if you have a local cancer society, or your place of treatment, everyone who has and treats cancer should know what it does and how a brave person pushes forth. I admire you greatly, Barbara. and I continue to hope that damn pain lessens and hope may return.

    love always,

  4. Thanks to all of you who read my poetry and leave me such generous comments. I really appreciate it!

  5. I also read and appreciated.


Thank you for reading my blog, and spending some time with me... I am truly honored.