I’m not angry, she tells me.
Someone somewhere had to get sick
the universe demands it.
So why not me,
and all the tools I need to manage it.
I’m okay with it, she says.
I would rather it was me than a single mother
with no insurance and two kids.
Someone who can’t handle it.
I’m not angry she says.
Even though she is also in her thirties
And I realize then
what I meant by anger.
I try to explain
I’m not angry for just me,
I’m angry for all of us.
Because this country has failed us
because pharmaceutical companies
off of a cure that leaves us sick
and wrung out like a dishrag,
wet and sloppy and useless on the kitchen counter.
Because doctors can add a wing
on their new house up in the country
when they lay out my treatment options.
Because religion has wormed it’s way into legislation
blocking research that could save lives
under the pretext of god’s will.
Because we have all settled for
Cut, Burn and Poison
as if that were enough,
falling to our knees each night,
thankful to live in this country
telling ourselves how lucky we are
calling this diagnosis
a fucking journey.
Careful, you say,
stepping gingerly around me
as I shiver,
half in the tub
my hair sopping wet
the soap running
down my back
as you wash my hair
because I cannot.
There you go,
you say like a mother,
and wrap the towel around me.
You seem content, caring
like you're doing a job that
maybe you were always meant to do
and upon seeing my face you offer,
Relax, you'll be able to wash your own hair soon enough.
Just another week, probably.
Don’t Live (On the Ground Floor)
on the ground floor
is what he tells me over his shoulder
because he can’t bother to turn around
and look at me,
me in this window,
late at night,
with his friends
and his bottle in its black bag
to please keep it down.
or we’re leaving
or jesus are we inconsiderate
assholes who think we own the street
the neighborhood, the city, the world.
Just don’t live on the ground floor.
A sentence meant to remind me
that this is his world
and he will do what he pleases in his world
and if I don’t like it,
well I better not live
on the ground floor.
A sentence I’ve heard before
not the same words, per say,
but the same meaning
Why are you getting so emotional?
Stop being an attention whore.
Don’t be so bitchy.
Stop being dramatic.
I was just trying to give you a compliment.
You should smile more.
You’re going to wear that?
Don’t be a slut
No one wants a virgin
What war on women?
You’re too pushy. It’s a turn off.
Ugh, are you a feminist?
All words said to me by men
some I’ve known
like this guy,
on the stoop
in front of my window
telling me again
on the ground floor
if you want any peace in this world.
Bio: Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collections The Wanting Bone and How to Be An American (Six Gallery Press) as well as the YA novel This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books). Forthcoming from Low Ghost Books is a poetry collection entitled Better Luck Next Year. She's at @allymalinenko mostly talking about David Bowie, Doctor Who and stupid cancer.
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