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Before Breakfast

by Austin Wallace

The world belongs to me.
At first only a few tentative 
birds, then the colors:
cochineal, cobalt, vermilion;
Also a faded blue shirt,
two sizes too large,
and a Key West postcard      
from an acquaintance
with one last wish
crossed off his bucket list.
Before sunrise 
there is the ritual:            
lying in the dark                        
that things could be worse,
waking from sleepless fear
to search my mirrored face
for signs of life; transparent
tape over the port bulging
my skin; my last hairs circling
to the shower drain.
Now darkness dissolving,
like ink spilled in water,
as my neighbors' windows spy
the naked street. Soon
my cousin's grumbling engine
will summon me to leave
for the hospital. For now
I watch the yolk plop
into the pan and sizzle:
today I am still indivisible

Austin is a former teacher, although the effects of cancer and its treatment have prevented him from returning to work as an educator. He wrote this poem to express one of the few benefits of having cancer: a patient's heightened sensitivity to the mundane glory and unendurable beauty of everyday life.