The Wrong Place

“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.

Big breath.

“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,

aggressive, unusual,

large tumor, sarcoma,

blood in the belly,

more detailed pathology,

bone marrow biopsy,

bone scan, body scan,

port-o-cath, clinical trials,

chemotherapy, radiation,

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.


5 thoughts on “The Wrong Place

  1. I have so many questions – how old is your son, and is this currently unfolding? I went through a rare form of cancer with my husband almost two years ago. The surreality is a very apt description. My heart is with you & yours. Incredibly powerful post.


  2. How is Eli now? I have an almost 7 year old son- when I read your Feb poem you mention he is 7? I’m in tears reading this. The writing is incredibly powerful but I can’t get past the emotions this piece stirred in me. I just want your little boy to be okay. Prayers that he is or is on that road.


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