The Unsuspecting Gardener

It began innocently, the way most things do—
the seed planted in good ground, the ovum
splitting again and again, the first cigarette
held to your lips between three fingers
in the fluorescent light of the bathroom stall—

when you reached too far to pull the last weed
from beneath the narcissus, their heads
already dead and gone. Somehow the tilt of body
wrong, you plummeted to the brick walk.
After, you limped into the house, surveyed

the leg, which in days ahead turned purple,
blue. The cost of growing old, you thought.
An inconvenience. Nothing that stopped you
from cooking dinner, making the bed, speaking
to your daughter on the phone. And Thursday,

the day you always went into town for groceries,
laundry, a visit to the local bookstore—you did
that too. Even went out for an evening of music,
as your lower leg swelled and hurt
more than it should. How could you know

that your very bones had betrayed you—
the orderly birth of white and red cells turned
into pandemonium, a blossoming of random
blasts, good for nothing except chaos—invisible
cancer growing? No lumps on your breasts

when you raised your arm and felt around,
no bleeding or black lungs. Only a bit of tiredness,
a new drag to your step that could have been age,
that could have been anything—a virus, a slight
cold, the humid air weighing you down. 

Volume 30.1