Maple Leaves: A Responsive Prayer -- by Miya Bernson
The week we got the diagnosis,
we heard from all over — Texas and Canada.
Cancer… it was a big word.
My husband's whole family said prayers
and lit candles.
Like a big shrine,
as wide as the spread of my arms.
They are very Catholic.
(I can see the candles shining.)
That was three years ago, and now it is October.
In Boston, it is still summer-warm,
but we know the frost is coming,
and the paper snowflakes in the windows.
(Your husband stays, sitting quietly behind me.)
More than anything, I am tired.
The medicine makes my skin itch and peel.
My stomach is sick,
my head aches,
my mouth is full of sores.
But I am so proud that I made it through twelve times,
and now thirteen,
and tonight will be fourteen.
(I hope you get to go home soon.)
No, not too soon,
because I want to get more treatments.
And I hope that I will be back in a few months
to go through it all again,
because that will mean it is working.
Cross your fingers for me.
It affects my brain too.
Neurotox-… I can never think of the word.
(Dreams, your husband says, then falls silent again.)
Yes, vivid dreams.
I saw maple leaves falling.
They were everywhere.
Maple leaves falling, and behind them everything was gray.
(What has been helping you get through this?)
Oh, I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual.
And I've got God right here with me,
everywhere I go.