May 11, 2013

Augustine F. Porras

AFTER A MOMENT’S PAUSE

I checked into LA County’s ER knowing full well the results.
That day, a well-intentioned, doctor-to-be, in all seriousness,
had to ask, with his finger up my ass, if I felt any discomfort.
Hours after the ultra sound, the third chest x-ray the blood test …

the doctor oncologist declared it to be cancer in the most
remarkable way, making it sound beautiful. The chest x-ray
of my lungs and liver came back clear of any mutating tissue.
What do you do when cancer calls? What do you do? Say no?

I took notes of the ward, of the other patients sitting for hours,
their IV dripping clear toxins of molecular love. Think of all
the books I could read, and I did. I revised the poems I had always
wanted to write. I watched the millennium celebration by the hour,

and was the most impressed with the Eiffel Tower. I had discovered
pain in the most unfortunate way. I had a C-section inscription where the
passing of mind and body took place. During the procedure, I had asked
to see the Tupperware. After a moment’s pause, I nodded, looking away.

I became the Med school oddity, the something other not yet discovered
Cancer taught me a new kind of patience, of Buddha-like meditation.
Waiting for hours lotus-like for a nod of the head, for an administrative
hand to be raised, calling me closer, to say, “This purple piece of paper

needs to be signed in red.” I was never angry at the world, I always
figured it could be worse. Patients were dying around me, some were
slowly wasting away. Their last days on the 10th floor Oncology Ward,
looking out this window west at the ocean of sprawl that is Los Angeles:

Rooftops angled like the sea when choppy, the grey charcoal sky cooking
the particulate carbon dioxide of pure capitalism, the spider web of electricity.
Is there any solace in the suffering? Anything to be gained then a clinched fist?
When we close our eyes, we enter into that sea, the heaven of our making.

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004