No Caress; or, Boob Talk

there was no caress
before the flesh-ripping jab—
you’re all violence.
Enjoy your pound of marred meat,
‘cause of my soul you’ll get zilch

 

the (not-even-close-to) wee notes…

I was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 weeks after I started the Trinkets and Armor project. See? The universe works in mysterious and often gallows humor(y) ways. I can totally hear her say, “Stunning Brain of Magaly, you will soon need a group of fantabulous people with whom you can discuss adding yet another chronic illness to your collection. So, why don’t you start crafting yourself a wild circle?

“Um… also (yeah, for some reason the universe sounds a lot like me *cough*) you could use that space to keep your extended family and friends informed, otherwise they might drive you nuts with questions and well-meaning advice your situation, time, and energy levels might not be able to manage.” Yep, the universe is brilliant.

The cancer was caught early, so it’s treatable (thank goodness for wee-giant bits of magic). I’m having a unilateral mastectomy. I have a zillion things to do before the surgery. But… I shall continue writing and sharing poetry and such. Because… an extremely sexy (soon-to-be extremely sexy and single-boobed) wild woman said that “Poetry is ink in lust with living” and that “ink is therapy—words shaped into dark and bright to soothe hurts and more”. That’s exactly what she said. And I trust her words. I trust words and I trust her… all the way to my achy bones.

For the next few months, most of my posts (if not all of them) will look like this one. Someone suggested that I should start a new blog or join an online community “for cancer patients only”, which is moderated by the same individual who made the suggestion. According to this person, “the cancer talk is not for everyone.” A whole lot more politely than you might’ve expected, I told her thanks but no thinks. You see, my Wicked Luvs, that plan might work for her and some others, but not for me. I believe that stigma and despair are filthy soul-sucking beasts that feed on unnecessary secrets, on silence, on segregation… I refuse to go down those gullets.

Treatment and recovery will be slightly nightmarish: I will be in exquisite pain, I will be exhausted, I will be having long conversations with my left boob as she gets used to being an only child, I will be dreaming up tattoos to decorate my battle wounds, I will spend a bunch of time polishing my newly acquired single-boob innuendos, (my Piano Man’s innuendos are so much better than mine… it’s often like that when it comes to him and my bits *giggles*). In not-so short, I will need to be me more than I have ever been. So, walking away from those I know, or separating them from those I will certainly meet makes absolutely no sense to me.

If you feel uncomfortable around poetry that shows teeth, picturing lines of scars and stitches, dancing with stanzas that chant of pain and soothing, blushing (or not) at sexual innuendos, or reading words like breast (and boob) and passiflora (and boob) and mango (and boob) and coffee (and boob) and even nipple (and most of us know just how sensitive that particular word can be). So… if any of this makes you feel icky, you might want to avoid my blog (and me) for a while. I shan’t hold it against you. But if I see you around, I can’t promise that I won’t glance your way, and shout while grinning, “Dude, where’s my boob!” Yep, I’m a bit of a horror.

Cancer is scary. Cancer is crushing. Cancer’s teeth are bigger than mine. But I’m a sneaky warrior—I come to the fight with a hammer, a (slightly mad) grin, a Piano Man who loves and understands me, a Muse with ink at the ready, family (by blood and by choice) and great friends… the best weapon a wild woman could ask for.

 

 

Linked to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.

 

Trinkets and Armor, 4: Life Can’t Smack You Powerless, If You Keep Your Self at the Ready

 

If you’re visiting from Poets United and wish to delight only in the poetry, scroll down to the end of the post, to read “And I Dare…”.

 

The page where I archive our weekly Trinkets and Armor prompts starts with this quote: “If life rips your heart out of your chest, make something useful (even fun) out of the bloody mess.” A handful of you have messaged me to say that you feel inspired by what we’ve been discussing these last few weeks, that the quote itself makes you “want to do something”, makes you “wish you could join in”, but that some of the issues faced by some of the souls sharing their pains and wisdoms in this project make you feel “like a whiny poser”.

Well, my Wicked Luvs, I invite you to tell that little society-spawned voice in your head to shut it. No issue should ever be as important to you as the one that keeps you from being happy. Talking about it, trying to make sense of it, is not whining or posing. On the contrary, you take power away from the nasty spawn when you plant your feet, and growl, “My troubles matter as much as everyone else’s”. And just in case my intent isn’t as clear as my teeth when someone says, “Magaly, this is your mango!” know that this is me singing, “Join in, my Luvs, let’s dance with each other’s troubles until misery can’t tell whose foot is kicking its face.”

The thought of wiping the grin off misery’s face, one wild kick at a time, leaves me scrumptiously energized. Still, I shan’t linger on it, since today’s topic is not cathartic kicking but self-empowerment through planning, practice, readiness…

 

While I was a Marine Corps Combat Instructor, I learned that there would always be a young Marine who was certain he or she was cleverer than everyone who came before, especially more ingenious than those ancient combat instructors who obviously just wanted to make students’ lives hell, out of pure boredom. So, my fellow instructors and I always kept an eye out for the telling signs.

I spotted the brainiac during a gear inspection, before a 9-mile hike. A usually easy hike, sort of short, on slightly rough terrain (not too hilly… but things could get tricky when you are hiking through the forest exhausted, sleep deprived, with gear weighing as much as ¾ of you). So, yes, some young Marines searched for creative ways to reduce the weigh they had to carry. The clever young man I was watching replaced his poncho, extra socks and skivvies, and some other bits with inflated plastic bags we used for waterproofing. I sighed and headed his way.

“Hey, Devil Dog”, I said to him, “I’m going to check your pack last. You have fifteen minutes to rethink your choices.” I left to inspect my first squad, but glanced his way every now and again. I watched him re-pack properly.

Half an hour into the easy hike, it began to rain. The leaves blanketing the ground became ankle-breaking-slippery traps, the wee hills turned into steep muddy hells, packs got heavier, life sucked. Life sucked even more for a second virtuoso whose instructor explained, in a very loud manner, just how displeased he was at the fact that said genius had deemed it prudent not to pack his poncho or any extra dry gear. “Do you know what hypothermia is? Do you? Don’t worry if you don’t, you’ll find out. You’ll probably get acquainted with the Silver Bullet too…”

The shouting went on and on and… As the instructor’s screams drowned thunder, I searched for my young Marine, the one who had tried to lighten his pack earlier. I found his eyes staring at me from under the hood of his camouflaged poncho, his fingers viced around a roll of waterproofed black socks. I winked at him, and said, “Sure, Devil, you can let him borrow a pair after Sgt. S is done… teaching him”.

I will always be grateful to the Marine Corps for teaching me the same lesson when I was a student: we’ll rarely be surprised into inaction or despair, if we keep ourselves ready for whatever life (or a downpour in the woods) flings our way.

The next few months of my life will be… extra rough. Since this post is getting a bit too long, I shall wait until next week to share details about the incoming storm. Right now, I can let you know that I will spend a lot of time rearranging my closet and cabinets, placing anything I might need after September on spots I can access without having to bend too much or having to stretch my arms, I will cook like a maniac and freeze the yumminess, I will let friends know that our interactions will be erratic (since my sexy bits will claim schedules I can’t predict)… I will get my Self ready for anything, so that nothing can fill my skull with unexpected stress. And while I take care of all this, I will continue to remind myself that all the prearrangements will very likely not be enough. Life is not big on sharing plots.

This week, I would love to hear about how you dance with the unexpected, and how you deal with said unforeseen guest when it invites itself into your life, and tells you, “Yes, dearie, trying to ignore me is futile. You must deal with me.”

 

My poetic contribution for this week is another oldie *slightly tweaked* (partly inspired by Remedios Varo’s “Tightrope Walkers”):

“And I Dared…”

Created
with three legs
and a wheeled limb,
my life is often misery
in a tightrope-walker world,

unbalanced
between two mouths and 5 eyes,
unable to wheel the world
without twisting the known rails.

“Help me, Faery Weird Mother,
I need a prince to kiss and poof!
the weirds that trip me.”

She instant-wished me
a DIY magazine.

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

Hurt,
I flung the failed wish at the world
and wheeled my rage into the woods,
in search of The Cutter.

After
losing too many moons…
I collapsed at the edge
of a pond.

Dare, thought my mouths, fading
into the depths, becoming…

…awakening
from a magic-less sleep,
to say, “Why not?”

I became my own prince,
kissed my-Self
ready for anything,

and I dared…

 

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