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Jan 2015
When I discovered I had cancer,
I was told that I would learn a lot
About Life and Death and Time,
But I never thought that I would
Discover what it means
To be intimate
With strangers,
Or anyone, for that matter.

When my insides were cut open like a game of operation,
I told myself:
Be detached.
When visitors came,
We talked about the weather.

When I arrived home, I spent my time
Trying to forget
The experience
Of impermanence
And shared emotions
That I couldn't even grapple with

When the person I loved
Left me
I flinched
And then sunk back into an abyss of
Emotionless functioning,
Cutting myself further and further
Off from my narrative
Of pain.

When it was time to go back to school,
I flinched
And signed up for a workload
Heavy enough
To push out the fading reality
Of my condition.

It wasn't until I was sitting on the steps
Outside of a bar that was slowly beginning
To empty out,
As intoxicated shadows gained substance and lit cigarettes against the brick wall.
I sunk down next to friend I had recently met-
My big t shirt inched up above my abdomen
And the lower jagged mark of my scar
Peeked out-

I didn't choose to tell him my story
Until he asked me about the obvious
Stale incison mark that had a presence
Of its own.
Piece by piece, it peeled itself from off my stomach
And liquified into a sequence of events
And feelings
That poured from me
Like a stream of bubbling bath water
Overflowing from the rim
Of a porcelain tub.

That's when I realized that there is something shared and intimate about scars:
Marred reminders of the flesh
That speak to our upmost human
Encounters with our own mortality.
An indecipherable label of sorts:
An unsigned invitation into the taboo.

In a moment of unintentional word *****
At 2am to a stranger,
I regained my intimacy with myself
And my journey.
I learned that while Life and Death and Time
Will always plague our existence,
They distance us from the human experience that is
To feel:

To feel everything in this God forsaken world.
To feel angry at people for leaving when they should have stayed.
To feel compassion at the same time.
To feel intimacy with others.
To feel intimacy with yourself.
To feel love.
To feel pain.
To feel the cold creases in the wooden floor as you make your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
To feel alone.
To feel surrounded.
To feel the trembling echoes of the past and be able to grab its elusive coattails and shake away the dusty remnants of time and shout that you are present.

To feel nothing.
Meka Boyle
Written by
Meka Boyle
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