I wrote this last winter, when our dear friend was undergoing yet another cancer treatment. He had done well after a stem cell transplant procedure, but a year later the cancer returned. The poem was my way of expressing my helplessness, and the waiting to hear news of how he was faring with this treatment, which I knew very little about until I did some research into it.
There’s a dispute in your blood,
Red cells against the white.
You’re in no shape to talk.
We’re playing your music,
it fills the living room.
You’re having another procedure—
it spills out unpronounceable names.
They’re taking the white from your blood.
Leucocytes, they’re taking you into custody,
so the capillaries can do their job, submit
to collection, centrifugation, spinning.
The basophils (Greek, basis, philein, to love),
the polymorphonuclear leukocytes,
those feisty granular immune cells,
the eosinophils, who so love eosins, the acid dyes,
that they embrace their stain, must be silent.
The rest of us, here at home this February day
do what we can. We wait,
wait, from Old French, guaiter,
wait and watch over.
Originally published in Punting, Origami Poems Project, Copyright 2018