‘So another girl eh?’ (nothing special, better luck next time)
Born on time and in the natural way,
her father held her screams and wondered,
waiting for her mother to return
with fifty-three stitches, drunk on anaesthesia,
he wondered what exactly was the natural bit.
She grew and its name began silent. Watching,
she waved and clapped and curled, and
its name took voice and became
Misery. Waking her one day with screams
it made plans to never leave. Her father bewildered, busied;
her mother’s days full of grieving minutes.
Age four, its name was Insidious. She grew
quiet and gentle and curious. And tired
at ten o’clock with a swollen belly full of fear.
‘Toddler diarrhoea – she’ll grow out of it. Try cutting
out sugar. Wheat. Dairy. Try cutting
She stood at six, rotund and weary beside siblings, exuberant and
thin. Her parents listening to more specialist talks of
calories in and out until one listened back and
looked. Ten by fifteen centimetre homogeneous neoplasm.
Caught out by a scan but not yet given
name casting her mother and father mute.
Not pretty enough to don the glossy hospital
newsletter. Overlooked for the blonde angel
with the club foot whose mother grimaced and asked of
the scar dividing her in half.
G a n g l i o n e u r o b l a s t o m a:
a benign word with malignant intent.
Brave and strong, she endured legal Special K and
sent letters to her friends. She asked its name, the
lump in her tummy that shouldn’t be there and ate
the first Icy Pole like a banquet. Mother held her hand and
sister cartwheeled. Her father devoured
information and hope like a sunrise knowing with a
ferocity that despite the lifelong
monitoring and no guarantees – she will survive:
There’s just something about her.