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A Journal of Haibun & Tanka Prose
Bob Lucky, General Editor & Ray Rasmussen, Technical Editor
January 2020 Vol. 15 No. 4

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Anna Cates

One out of Four

I'm in the kitchen, chopping organic beets. I feel a familiar sensation running down my thighs. I hasten to the bathroom. I'm already wearing a tampon, but this spotting is nothing like my menstrual blood of yesteryear, watery and absorbable. It's like a tampon-resistant slime that moves around the tampon on its determined migration down into my pink slippers . . .

ah . . . the many shades
of dark slacks

I sit across from my gynecologist, staring down into the face of his humming laptop. He looks up, and I smile, ready for him to tell me the good news, that I’m perfectly healthy and that my symptoms are just part of a normal stage of life. Yet he seems so sober.

“I’m sorry I don’t have better news,” he says.

“What do you mean?”

“Didn’t you log into the portal and read your biopsy results?”

“No. I didn’t realize I could do that.”

“You have uterine cancer . . .” He goes on to tell me the various parts of my reproductive system that he can remove as part of a treatment process.

Reeling with denial, my head juts forward. “You are not removing any lymph nodes!”

Upon my boyfriend’s advice, I travel out of town for a second opinion. I seek, via email, input from a radiation oncologist in my writer’s group. Eventually, I resign myself to reality.

cold November
the melancholy cry
of a night bird