Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ally Malinenko- Three Poems

Two Allysons

I’ve been waiting for this moment
for over a year.
Just once, I told myself, it would happen.
After all the offices
and waiting rooms,
all the treatment centers
and hospital units
just once it would happen.

It would have to happen, right?

I would open the door and see someone else
as young as me.

But it never did.
Not at the surgeon’s
or the oncologist
or at the hospital
or the treatment centers
when I sat there in that blue
gown waiting to be burned
or when I wait in that beige chair
each month for injections
and this went on for so long
that I started to think
it would never change

it would always be me,
the youngest one in the room.

Until today
a year after
when my life is now
scans and tests
to see if I’m still okay
You walked in,
dressed in the blue gown
just like me,
your mother nervous beside you
like she was giving you away
to a lover she wasn’t so sure about.

We exchanged a look,
tried not to stare
because I hate when the
others stared at me,

but my dear,
I wanted to lay my head in your lap,
I wanted to kiss your face,
your sad scared eyes,
I wanted to tell you it was going
to be okay
to lie to you
like they’ve lied to me.

All these months
and you were the one I was hoping
to see
except now
I can hardly stand to look at you
How beautiful you are.
It breaks my heart.

When the nurse comes in
and says
We both stood up,
stared at each other
like mirror images
like a reflection we never wanted
and your mother said,
with a nervous laugh,
“Oh, two Allysons? How funny?”
Like we were at the salon,
waiting to get our nails done.
I sat back down
as the nurse took you away
and you glanced just once over your shoulder.

You looked me dead in the eye.
And then you were gone.

I want you to know, Allyson,
that I will never forget you,
your brown hair,
your nervous eyes,
the way you moved through the room.

I want you to know,
there will always be a stranger
out there in the universe
thinking of you
and wondering
and hoping
you made it out
of this nightmare alive.


He told me his last girlfriend
was so tiny
that she disappeared in the blankets
and he would have to lift
them just to find her in there

and I thought of the Little Prince’s rose
kept under glass
something so delicate
that she needed to be carried around.

Something that would stay where you put it.
That would always be there
when he lifted the sheet
waiting just for him.

What is essential is invisible to the eye.

He was an epileptic.
If I have a seizure
he told me,
don’t put my wallet in my mouth.
That’s a myth.

Use the socks,
he said, handing me a pair of balled up sweat socks.
I kept them within reach all the time
just in case.

I held them in my hand,
wondering how they would fit inside.
How I would pry his jaw open
and ram them in.
This seemed like an impossible task.

But he never had one.

He told me a story about a kitten that died,
crushed under a rocking chair
and when he said it,
I searched his eyes to see if he was crying
because he always talked about how much he loved animals.

But he wasn’t.

He just said it like a fact.
Like he had to get his taxes done.

When we napped in his bed,
I pressed myself against the wall
attempting to take up less space
trying to also hide in the blankets
to not make an indent

to be un-
to disappear
until I was needed

the socks
still clutched in my fist.

A Second, Forever

            -How long is forever? Sometimes only a second.
                                    Lewis Carroll

I spotted the sunset
after we had already bought
the wine
for the evening
and we’re headed back to the room
our feet blistered and sore
from walking so far
to leave a pen
at Franz Kafka’s grave
as if that meant anything

but we still did it,
the way we still cross the street
to line up at the wrought iron gate
of Karlov Most
to watch the sun explode
brilliantly against the palette of clouds
colored pastel like a Mucha
over the castle on the hill

and I have to hang on to the bars just
to keep myself from spinning right off the planet
as I realize
this is it,
this is the moment I have been waiting for all year
I didn’t know it would be a sunset
but it is

it is the world unfolding to me
a second, forever
and in that forever second
the year washes over me
the forever second
that I sat crouched on the bathroom
floor shaking with my death,
the forever second
when I woke up during surgery
and knew I was being disassembled on a table
like a toy girl. A thing no longer real.

One forever second after another
that I lived through
bravely sometimes
but mostly terrified
and weak
faking bravery
following doctor’s orders
because I was left with no other choice.

All those forever seconds
ticking forever
like a clock stuck
on itself
a crystal cracked
until finally they get me here
thrust back into the life
I wanted to live
the one I was supposed to be living
the one I worked for

not the one that I had been given
the fake plastic replacement
of the life I had that I loved dearly
and I will remain here,
in this forever second
watching this day end
even after I board the bus
and then the plane and then the subway
and find my way back to the doctors
I will still be here
so help me god.

If I’m going to die anyway
I’m going to die in this second.


  1. Ally may very well be the best goddamn poet there is.

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  3. Brilliant, and appallingly, sadly restorative.