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Christine Goodnough

Honorable Mention 2012 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $100

About this Poet:
A love for storytelling runs in my family. Reading was a childhood passion; writing naturally followed. My husband and I, both born and raised in Saskatchewan, now live on an acreage an hour southwest of Saskatoon. We have a married daughter and four grandchildren. Although I always thought myself a Christian, when I was twenty-one the Lord dealt with my self-centred heart and I made that complete surrender He requires. I pray the Holy Spirit can work through my writing to inspire others. I belong to His Imprint Christian Writers in Saskatoon and write in several genres.

About this Poem:
A cancer worker once said that breast cancer gets much publicity even though it claims fewer lives than some other types. I believe this is more due to the sensuous focus of our society than to actual concern for suffering and death. I don’t want to downplay this worthy cause, but hope my poem brings out the awfulness of any and all cancer.

Another Writing About Breast Cancer

Fingers on the keyboard, blank screen
ready for outpouring of pathos;
I should write about breast cancer.
Always hot topic, spacious bandwagon
with room for many feet.
I could list battles fought, lives lost:
Grandma died of breast cancer.
Lives won: two cousins are survivors.
And me.

Grandpa died of a brain tumour
but other cancers have less appeal
to the masses: liver’s a passionless lump;
bowels are necessary evils;
tar-blackened lungs morphing
into gray lesions–very unaesthetic;
stomach cancer makes people sick.
But breasts are dear to the heart
of men and women everywhere,
passionately entwined in our psyche,
vital parts of our definition.

My Dad had cancer, too–unglamorous
unspeakable type. Ribbons would be dark
gray; insidious mass started in his sinus,
spread to nose and cheek bones.
Doctors did the best they could
but reconstructed noses can never pique
public approval like reconstructed breasts.

He needed his new nose only two years...
cancer invaded his brain, erupted
in open sores on his face,
chewed up his eye socket.
Who wants to hear all that?
Or the screams of leukemic children
as bone marrow samples are drawn?
Breasts are much more comforting;
of interest even in their afflictions.

I could rehearse my dreaded discovery,
shock wave of impending doom,
sculpted flesh disappearing
in a flash of surgeon’s knife.
I didn’t feel a thing; didn’t waken
during surgery–like my dad–
to see sheets soaked with my blood.

Chemotherapy, baldness, depression:
I could tell it all. Thirty years later
I’m still alive, thank God! Thirty years
of dawns, sunsets, changing seasons–
of laughing, loving, living. Why, God?

My survival could be very encouraging.
Fingers on keyboard, blank page ready;
I should write about beating breast cancer.
Instead I stare at the screen
and see my father’s ashes
scattered across in big wet blotches.

Copyright ©2012 Christine Goodnough