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forgotten) and find sinewy fear pulsing while imagining itself more real than me-in-the-mirror, and then landing where edges of me vanish. Boundaries simply cease. It’s quiet here. Devoid of music or pretty pictures. And it’s dark—this slow dance with cancer—like a movie theater with scenes cutting in, but no soundtrack. I long for my former body, smooth as the rind of a river, my four-chambered heart riding kite-high. Hating helps me survive this odyssey’s tilting labyrinth, since chemo keeps me gagged and shackled. Scraps of me have gone missing since my seal-skinned tongue is too swollen to speak. I choke. Cry. Without berth, I am a memory washed ashore twice upon a time. Except. Have I mentioned my sanguine tendencies? And how this stubborn bent fuels me to make room for something fierce? It’s simplistic to consider hate the flip side of its perceived opposite: love. After a lifetime of wanting only beauty—creating something pretty via choreography or painting or writing—it’s finally okay to be ugly, to hate. The day before another round of chemo, I rally when the Pacific calls. A recent storm leaves a slew of dead seabirds amid strands of seaweed and broken sand dollars. In the past I would have avoided the lifeless birds by choosing a broad swath past, eyes purposely held in the opposite direction. Too ugly, too miserable, to witness. Now I want to see them. And one by one I lean in to photograph each bird’s final berth, their floundering obvious within a tumultuous squall beyond the ken of words. Their fight inside that storm, whose salvo of uproarious wind, rain, and mountainous waves left each bird broken, resides in me still: a sandy testament etched like a scar across my chest.


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