It is the first time I am in a hospital since.
My love is a number, 227825 in OR;
the woman next to me paces over her partner’s number;
I am all nerves but I do not know how to wear waiting room anxiety.
I still identify as the number, not the pacing.
It could be the same hospital, but it’s not.
I mean all hospitals look the same.
So even if I am states and years away
from where my body became its own casualty,
I can’t tell myself that they are not going to call our name next.
I can’t make myself stop pulling at the plastic phantom ID band.
So the woman next to me paces, watches her partner’s number,
says ‘cancer’ enough times that it starts to sound like my name.
I don’t close my eyes because all hospitals smell the same
and I am still scared of hospitals
and I am still having recurring nightmares
where the cancer comes back and the waiting room is empty,
where the cancer comes back and there is no god or Surgeon
who considers me worth saving a second time.
I ask the woman what kind of cancer, tell her ‘me too’,
she stops pacing and says stage four lung cancer.
They think there are two tumors in his brain.
I tell her I am surviving -- and I am sorry.
She asks to see my scar, and I show her.