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Breath & Shadow

Winter 2021 - Vol. 18, Issue 1

"The Crab in the Spindle"

written by

Cary W. Tucker

I slide headfirst inside the huge machine,

And as the tunnel gears begin to spin,

A cushion presses up against my ears.

I feel the needle prick my elbow vein

But cannot see a clock to check the time

Nor move the mirror hung above my face.

What battle cry might I soon have to face

That issues from the mouth of the machine?

What if a second growth appears this time?

My water nuclei align and spin

As high magnetic fields surround each vein,

And then the scan begins to probe my ears.

My childhood cancer almost scorched my ears

And nearly froze the left side of my face –

A scar still glaring like a floral vein.

Back then, the major hospital machine

Pronounced with callous health profession spin:

Six months to live, and likely not more time.

Although Archangels kept my early time,

No Cherubim have whispered in my ears,

But now a set of ruby earrings spin

As Muriel reveals her pretty face

And gently slides me out from the machine

To plunge the contrast agent in my vein.

The young nurse swears as blood leaks from my vein,

Injects the gadolinium in time,

And rolls me back inside the dark machine.

Her oath could hardly reach my failing ears,

But no relapse was hinted on her face;

So I relax and watch the system spin.

My proton moments slow their lattice spin

As heavy metal courses through each vein.

The tumor once hid deep behind my face

Permitted me to live on borrowed time

As gamma radiation pierced my ears,

Emitted by the cobalt blue machine.

The Fates do spin a price with borrowed time,

A graven vein that wears my eyes and ears:

Each day, I face a debt to a machine.

Cary W. Tucker is a childhood brain tumor survivor (astrocytoma). The side effect of the cancer and treatment that has affected him most is severe hearing loss. After being a hearing aid user for several decades, he is now a binaural cochlear implant user. Aside from writing poetry, Cary has found that he also enjoys helping people with financial planning. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ or CFP®.

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