“I don’t think we’re in the right place,”
my son said,
looking up at the sign above the desk.
“What’s oncology?” he asked.
It was my turn to look up at Eli,
(my tall manboy with the baby face),
into those wondering hazel eyes.
My tongue curled around the word,
reluctant to release its awful power.
“It means cancer,” I said.
My husband came in from the parking lot
and we three trooped down a hall,
into a small room,
without enough space to breathe,
sat in hard plastic chairs,
and heard from an unsmiling doctor,
large tumor, sarcoma,
blood in the belly,
more detailed pathology,
bone marrow biopsy,
bone scan, body scan,
port-o-cath, clinical trials,
nausea, vomiting, losing hair,
treatment before Christmas,
no more school this year.
“No school!” Eli exclaimed,
as if that were the worst of the news.
But perhaps it was the only bit he could grasp
in the soup of this surreal conversation.
We sat and stared,
dry-eyed and numb,
nodded, signed, took appointment cards into helpless hands,
and slowly rose.
Our legs somehow carried us
from the small room,
back down the hall
and out of that right and wrong place
into the gray afternoon.