1 poem

by Tiana Reid

Tiana Reid is a writer living in New York City. Her work has been published in Bookforum, The Nation, The New Inquiry, The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She is also a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

if you want we can forget

Dad only gets to choose the channel because

he has cancer.

 

No one in the family says this new c-word

but the chemo is d-rip-dripping and

the waiting room’s vinyl feels real to me.

 

That first time in the chemo room

they missed his black vein three times. They had to call in

the black nurse. She found it. But

by then

I was in the hallway trying not to faint. I said,

excusemeigottagotothebathroom but really

I swirled through the plastic drapes and turned the corner

as the floor rose up into my mouth,

I was swallowing concrete. The next day

I wrote “racialization of cancer” down on a napkin.

 

A couple years later and

your veins are even more fucked. We think it might be time

to install another port-a-cath.

 

I want to believe in God and not

your body.

 

Dad, we can watch CNN

for twenty-four hours straight,

if you want. We can forget

the rampant silence

the fat fucking rats in the walls

the plates thrown across the room

the ride in the cop car

the roadblocks

the addictions

that night in Jamaica.

 

We can watch all

the “rich man acting to be poor to find a wife” titles on YouTube,

if you want. We can forget

how cancer changed you:

You go to church now. You see the bush doctors when you can,

storing their cloudy tonics in the cupboard. You’re supportive, and

soft.

 

If anything I want this cancer thing to last

forever. I know that sounds weird and cruel

but like, I’ve always wanted

our new model of intimacy.

 

You’re still not my favorite person

but yes, dad, we can watch El Chapo on Netflix,

if you want. We can forget

the shit your baby mamas talked. The way D** said

I had to do something

about your new young girlfriend as if I

had not already been through enough.

 

Dad! We can watch whatever you want. We can forget my liturgical cursory and admit that dying is our hands. We can be of the sky. We can forget, if you want.

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