I have been writing a poetic journal since 1995, begun just after healing from multiple sclerosis. In 1996 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, completing treatment (surgery, chemo, and radiation) in 1997. I kept writing, (by hand, in spiral notebooks), but I was unable to get all of the poems edited and entered into the computer. Time went on and I recovered, facing other challenges over the years, balancing being a mother and wife, running a household, with writing and creative projects. At some point I got back to the process of getting my poems in the computer, organizing them in “Books” of six months of writing each. But I never got all those poems from 1997-98 into my files.
A long time passed. My writing changed, getting better I hope, more streamlined, clearer perhaps. But I held onto the idea that I wanted the complete “set” of poems to access for any future projects. The poems, as is any journal, are like memory. What happened? Who was I then, what inspired me?
Every so often over the years, I pulled out the dusty spiral notebooks and made efforts to get caught up. This week I began again in earnest to get all the poems into usable form. Many of them are clearly for my own use only. This is often the case with writing. But some surprised me. Here is one story I came upon tonight.
Each Life Is Precious
I am grateful
for each and every
hair growing on my head,
for eyes that blink
and open wide, that cry
for every breath drawn in,
for every cell sent oxygen,
for a full heart beating untended
in time to ancient rhythm.
I am grateful for every day,
every minute each a gift,
for feet and hands and lips,
for knees and elbows and hips,
for skin and nails and toes,
for ears and eyebrows,
neck and shoulders,
for back straight
and thighs strong.
All this awareness
dedicated to the one
who was struck by a lemon-colored cab
right before our shocked eyes,
so hard his shoes flew off,
hit so fast and terrible
the body collapsed and lay flat
like a balloon doll with the air let out
or a scarecrow without its stuffing.
In that second, one easy Friday night
the world changed color.
We drove on, as many others came to help, hospital nearby,
we went on in horror, my head cupped in hands,
but not helpless. I sent healing energy
to support the spirit
so recently jolted from physical reality.
I held his ethereal hand as he shook it off
and kept on traveling.
I rubbed my husband’s shoulders,
he massaged my neck and head,
we spoke in hushed reverent tones
and drove carefully home.
I honor the one who gave us this lesson:
All life, every sometimes grating minute
is precious, beyond any earthly measure.
Margaret Dubay Mikus