Six Weeks into Chemotherapy

Laura Paul Watson

2022 Honorable Mention, Allman Prize for Poetry


To be unseen, unprayed for, to be unhugged
in the grocery store and left alone

to select a melon. To be rooted
against, discomforted. To receive

no advice. God, let me be
ordinary. Invisible. Let me struggle

in the usual ways (stubbed toes, taxes)
and inspire no one in my misfortune.

To have all my misfortunes grow small.
To be dull as a leaf.

My neighbor lifts me to the Lord
in the middle of the street

and one of us feels better.
Oh, to be chronic. Hairy.

To add time to my own tragedy.
To do the way I did.

I’m a slick thing, sunken.
I’ve set my nerves on fire.

I’ve let go
a thousand birds

inside this body.
Oh, to be let go.

To hold onto
instead of being held.

I want to do all the holding.