Written on the body

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Written on the body

There is a map
on my body,
like one
of those prized ones,
in all great storytelling.

It is not for
the faint of heart,
for the journey
it represents
is never for
the uninitiated.

I can follow silver trails
across my torso that trace
the journey of my life.

These trails
once stitched my muscles
back together
after they’d been
sliced open
to take out both my babies
and all of the cancer
which would have killed me.

My nerve endings
were destroyed but
they knit themselves
new pathways,
so I could feel
radiation butterflies
rising under the skin
on that knife edge sensation
between agony
and ecstasy,
as they fluttered over
the tattoos
which mark
the borders
of radiation country.

Like all powerful medicine,
in all the best stories,
it has to be contained,
as it heals,
or harms,
in equal measure.

In my cleavage,
one radiation tattoo nestles
like a secret symbol
of a society
to which no one
would choose to belong.

Those who notice
and understood
where I have been and,
what I have lived through,
never explicitly say,
but I know,
that they know,
as a softness
seeps into the conversation
and wraps me in their love.

But my story
is not just mapped
across my body,
it is steeped
in my soul
grief and loss,
joy and laughter,
and all
the wonders of this world.

No map needed,
no x marks the spot,
the treasure is all mine,
a lifetime lived
and the privilege
of being me.

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