The Ghost of Cancer Past

There’s the smile we recognize–
but as we’re greeting him
we see exhaustion in his eyes
where hope is stretched thin,
the transformation to a man
who doesn’t fill his skin.

They’re gone, he convinces us—
all the lung tumors.
New at believing wellness
isn’t just a rumor—
his eyes beg us, like a child
desperate for some humor.

He was ambushed once, and wonders
will it strike again?
Hasn’t he been tested far
enough for one man?
No. The ghost of cancer past will
haunt him from within,

appear at every x-ray test
and every sore throat,
and every routine cold or cough.
The shadow of the ghost
a guest at his son’s wedding day,
perhaps his grandson’s birth.

The ghost will hover close to him
and catch him off his guard,
reminding him that trusting in
the future will be hard.


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