Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ally Malinenko- Three Poems

Collateral Damage

You’re never going to connect to anyone ever again.

That’s what the storyteller says
as I watch him talk about
the black bird of cancer
and just like that,

I know it’s true.
I can feel that wall now
the one I keep walking into
rubbing up against me
and even last night

I felt it again
as we were on the couch,
the wine bottle half finished
the boring movie shut off
Neil Young on the radio
and you and me talking about
music and art

not cancer for a change
and you remember

that I said I had something to tell you
and you remind me

you say, what were you going to say before
and my mouth opens
and closes
and opens
and closes

You are never going to connect to anyone ever again.

and I say nothing
because maybe
the storyteller was wrong.

And I smile and
say, I don’t remember.
And I pray for the storyteller to be wrong.

The Waiting #1

When it is Monday
I am both too close
and not close
enough to Wednesday
which is the day
I should get the call
about the biopsy.

And I am not doing well,
one drink away from tears
or stupidity
and you are trying
telling me it’s fine
and I am nodding
wanting to grab you
and shake you and

It’s fucking cancer.
I know it.

I saw the doctor’s face
when she turned
to wash my blood off her gloved fingers
after dropping bits of me
into a jar for the lab
and I said,
Hey Doc, you’re not worried are you
craning my neck
to see her face
from this operating table

and she said
Yes, Allyson
she used my whole
name the way people
who don’t know me do

she said Yes Allyson, I’m very worried.
before yanking off her gloves
dropping them in the sink
and walking out the door.


I watch videos online
during my late night at work
of girls explaining
how to tie a head scarf
so it doesn’t slip off your head.

Avoid silk they say, rubbing their bald heads
talking to the camera.

They are good at this,
nimble fingered
and careful.
Each one they tie
looks great,
if great is a word that can be used here.

I email a few to my mother.
I tell her not to worry about the chemo
I tell her to be strong
To be brave.
I tell her all the things that I whisper to myself late at night.

I send videos to my mother
so she can learn to tie a headscarf

I save a few for me. 

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