American Life in Poetry: Column 546
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
They say that when undergoing cancer treatment, the patient's attitude is all-important. Here Robert King, a poet now living in Colorado, looks with wit and bemusement at his chemotherapy. His most recent book is Some of These Days, (Conundrum Press, 2013).
The Cancer Port
It's called a port, a harbor, haven, home,
a city on the coast of my chest opened
for a passage into my heart—which we say
is where emotions live—and it's embedded,
slipped into a shallow nest of flesh, a bump,
a lump under the skin on the right so
the narrow street can reach the marketplace
of the aorta, receptive to any
incoming ship, needle, boat, barge, unloading
its spices, crates of dates, barrels of poisons,
Etoposide phosphate, amethyst, amaranth,
Cisplatin, amphorae of wine and olives.
I carry it secretly under my skin
because it is easier. I carry
everything under my skin, so lightly
I barely notice, watching from the ramparts
the dangerous rocky anchorage below
where goods and evils, bundled together
and tied, arrive, waiting to be unloaded
and poured out into a welcoming country.