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Hospital Thanksgiving

by Ali Zidel Meyers

A year ago, giving thanks,
I readied myself
to have my insides opened.
Thanksgiving passed
in the clean white-halled hospital,
where the cafeteria
offered turkey dinners on black plastic plates
plump dollups of hazy mashed potatoes
squishing off the edge.
That mess never made it
to my room.
The day after surgery
my body could not fathom solids,
but drank thirstily the saline
carried through a clear plastic tube
to my left forearm.

My belly held the orange, square
marks of sanitizing scrub for days,
demarcating the landscape for
the scalpel and doctor's lithe hands.
In he went:
scooping beige fatty tissue
rearranging maroon insides
snipping, resecting, exploring,
extracting cancer
the day before Thanksgiving.

They canceled the family feast
since the family event was cancer.
No festive meal
wine and wild words flowing.
No open pant-buttons
or fat uncles splayed
on the couch like starfish.

They waited by the phone
to hear the news of surgery's end,
with hope and thanks
that I survived.

Ali Zidel Meyers grew up in Ohio and has lived in California for the last 10 years. She was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 33. Ali is currently working on a memoir about her cancer experience. For more information about Ali and her work, visit www.meyerslearningcenter.com.