What Undiscovered Countries Are Then Disclosed

The nurses wouldn't treat the pain. I had no one to drive me home, and it hurt--wickedly--the needle, the insertion of the titanium tumor markers, the size of tumor they were announcing. A few hours later, CAConrad came to town, gave me a feather to put in my bra, reiki-ed me on my dirty pink sofa, gave me crystals. He said he'd put his hand in his bag, and one of the crystals said to his hand "give me to Anne." Stones could talk to him, and we drank miso soup together. Juliana Spahr texted what everyone else was probably thinking, too, "I'm glad that Conrad is there."

The night I learned I had cancer, I dreamed my friend Jace Clayton and I were children on a raft in an endless sea. We were supposed to be on a radio show in a movie about John Wieners, but I could no longer think of any words. Language was a mess. Michael Brown was killed by the police the day after my diagnosis. The world was a mess, as always--and I remember telling a friend I couldn't join him on the streets, me such a mess, too. Ferguson, though a few hours away from me, could well have been at a distance of years. My feeling of political helplessness was a mess. And my apartment was a mess, the kind with vertical blinds on the sliding doors and furniture from the dumpster. Everyone visiting had to sleep on a sofa in what was supposed to kind of be the dining room half of a living room, or sometimes on an air mattress with holes in it, one that would deflate each night.

Read the full essay on the Poetry Foundation website.