Kristene Brown community mental health social worker. She earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poetry and fiction has previously been published or is forthcoming in The Cortland Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Linebreak, Meridian, upstreet, and others. Kristene lives and works in Kansas City.

Kristene Brown

Upon hearing cancer treatments increase the risk for secondary types of cancer

The sun looks like a ticking zero, a hollow punch of light. All I wanted was to look up and think: heaven, All I wanted was hours without a why. Where did this fevered heat, spun up from the spine of that far off horizon, come from? All rush. All necessity. Everything burns with the want of living. Everything burns. The universe owes nothing. No debt to heed here. Bodies break and that darker blue, one degree lighter than absolute nothing, forever chases that slim skin of light. The sky has no imagination. It just is what it is, a revolving hemisphere of sun and moon. Even I know that. I know one edge will always leads to the next. It’s either flight or fall. Forget the days, forget the sun, forget the moon. Dirt is a hoarder. How could I have never known — It's true, that which saves you can un-save you too.

I was halfway through a six week long round of chemotherapy and radiation when my oncologist casually informed me of a phenomenon called 'second cancer,' that is, cancer caused by cancer treatments. What a cruel concept. It made me think about how thin the boundary between preservation and destruction can be at times, how what we think will save us — love, writing, medicine — may end up being the very thing that destroys us. Everything comes with a price even salvation.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
All contents © the author.