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cakesTen days ago we were heading back from Stradbroke Island with the knowledge that I was more than likely going to receive a diagnosis of breast cancer on the following day.  I don’t imagine that the topic of my health is going to feature highly on this blog over coming months. However, the occasional poem may emerge midst all of the ‘usual’ fare.

Here’s my attempt to make sense of the last fortnight. With gratitude to Patti Digh for the last line.

figs and sugar plums

Totem

FLUID

a soak in the bath

liquid surrounds

random self-examination

an anomaly

that’s what we’ll call it for now

a rescheduled appointment

a confirmation

the anomaly has a new label

the biopsies

the waiting

two days on the island

beach camping

nature offers welcome distractions

wind, rain, birds, sea, sand

the GP visit

another confirmation

sleeping tablets suggested

red wine substitutes

liquid sleeping draft

the alcohol free zone can start tomorrow

calls made

commitments cancelled

the surgeon

a date

admission forms

gratitude for insurance

the airport

the family rallying

afternoon tea cakes

totem selfies

shopping for sleepwear

fresh vegetables and fruit for juicing

liquid green

a photo walk to the point on dusk

the hospital

gift packs, flowers

a cushion for afterwards

compression stockings

information pack overload

making blue people from surgical gloves

the glare of theatre lights

an anaesthetist with a Scottish accent

indecipherable

liquid sleep

nothing

eyes open

clock on the wall

rating the pain

liquid comfort

ice chips

sandwiches and rice pudding for dinner

half-hourly observations

normal sleep position unattainable

late night television

black and white reruns

a hungry plea before the breakfast run

honey toast and coffee delivered

liquid sweetness

morning shower

surveying the battle ground scattered with blue dye

more of a skirmish really

two incision scars, new shapes to learn

physiotherapist

social groups on offer

introvert wants to run for the hills at the very suggestion

new phrases join the soon-to-be common lexicon

home

well wishes from all quarters

temporary restrictions dawning

new routines necessary

the vegetable garden is getting an extension

as loved ones focus on the ordinary

maintain a piece of the normal

the waiting

in between the surgery and tomorrow’s conversation

and now, just today

liquid salt

hello moment, I’m here

Lynn Buckler Walsh

mangroves 1

purple rose

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on a day when a friend left us

There is comfort in routine.
Familiar repetition,
the reassuring deja-vu
of an ordinary activity.
It speaks
as if everything will be alright,
that this will always be here,
eternal,
building in the memory bank.
Yet it won’t. It really won’t.

Perhaps the so-called ordinary
calls for a response that sharpens senses,
as if to see and hear it for the very first time,
every time.

Yet seemingly repeated actions
are different every time.
They diverge from the norm
with nuances large enough for us to notice,
if we care to notice.

For instance:

when hanging out the washing,
soak in the sunshine’s warmth,
peg slowly, pay attention.

when pouring milk in coffee,
inhale the aroma,
dip your finger in the crema.

when waking to soft bird sounds,
differentiate them,
lie still and breathe the morning in.

This mortality of ours demands
sparklers and laughter,
not ennui and weariness;
mindfulness and regard,
not lethargy and indifference.

It feels as if it will always be here
yet it won’t, it really won’t.

It feels as if we will always be here
yet we won’t, we really won’t.

Lynn Buckler Walsh

Saturday supermarket

the young man working the express checkout lane

is up for a chat with his customers

what’s wrong with your wrists?

arthritis?

what caused it?

R S I says the man a little louder than he wants to announce

oh not arthritis, RSI, he repeats

it stands for Repetitive Strain Injury

says the man through his white beard

tiring of the inquisition

do you know what caused it?

playing cricket says the man

the boy persists with his cheerfulness

compounding the lie

the Michael Clarke of your day eh?

yeah, says the man

next up

a woman’s product selection is under review

are these any good?

I don’t know says the woman

hoping for a quiet and quick transaction

let me know what they’re like next time you’re in

I will says the woman

hurrying to meet her companion

my turn

did you mean to buy all those things when you came in?

he’s noticed I have no basket

I did

I didn’t know we sold these

he says as he scans the chocolate-coated ginger

notice he said we not they

he is loyal to the corporation

most people buy more than they intend

notice how observant he is

notice how he loves his job

notice him

Lynn Buckler Walsh

This morning, as I was in my office preparing for two workshop facilitations next week, there was a knock on the door. A very sweet elderly couple greeted me. Here are my cogitations on that encounter.

the calculation of conversions

I know you are bringing a message

putting your offer out there,

eager to read from that bible you hold

but don’t, please don’t, proffer your fare

to me.

I’m wondering just how you measure

the numbers you might convert.

do you calculate one in a thousand

and how is that possibly worth

your time?

I’m feeling a little mean-hearted

at sending you both away.

would a cup of tea offer have hurt me?

This, my atheist prayer today.

Amen.

Lynn Buckler Walsh