Cirque, Vol. 10 No. 1

Page 90



Tamara Sellman


At least it won’t kill you.

I want to go to Kanab. Dry and red, hot and lost, a place of high-noon distress.

What do these words even mean?

There I could be a hermit, I could build a kiva, disguise it with sagebrush, sink into its cool shade, stare down scorpions— anything to silence words and voices.

I know what drizzle means, and high slack tide, Old Man’s Beard. I remain on the island, damp and green, cool and contained, a place of hard-pan clay.

At least you don’t have cancer. At least it won’t kill you.

I hear the voices in the fog, find their clever words veiled in the constant and unlikely solace of tinnitus.

Instead my days are links in an endless chain of rain, moss, and MRIs… blood draws, talk of the risks of immunomodulators, guerilla approaches to side effects.

The joints of failing alder trees pop against autumn gusts, promising windowmakers hidden in the furred and widespread arms of cedar.

My speech—already compromised by a broken brain—fails new vocabulary lists: parasthesia, gadolinium, Lhermitte’s, neurological pruritis.

This is no Kanab, but I will make do.

Meanwhile I can still pronounce geoduck. Kinnick-kinnick. Aurora borealis. Sequim. My old self at diagnosis was tossed like a broken mannequin into the salal-ridden ditch of lost identities, not by a careless doctor or a cruel nurse, but by those who I expected to know better than to lob trite comparisons. Chronic autoimmune disease, without a cure or even an understanding of root cause, is no better or worse than any cancer or other protracted death. It’s the devil of uncertainty which unites us all, indiscriminate. At least you don’t have cancer.

Untitled, from the Flow Series

Hal Gage

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