White by Ally Malinenko

You are white as a sheet by the time you enter the room
pushing open the door, saying my name
as you did all the way down the hall
when the nurse came to get you

which we all know
is never a good sign.

What what, you keep asking, what
white as the paper gown I am pressing to my chest
as you look from me to the nurse
to the doctor
and I can barely get the words out
because I’ve already started shaking
so badly my teeth are chattering

and the nurse keeps asking me if I want to get dressed
as if
it was the temperature of the room that was the problem
and not
the fact that we are here again

not even three years out
from the diagnosis
and the word
falls from her lips
like a stone

dropped into the black pool of me
with a chain on my ankle
pulling me under.

Ally Malinenko

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collections The Wanting Bone, How To Be An American and Better Luck Next Year as well as the novel This Is Sarah. She lives in the part of Brooklyn the tour buses don’t bother with.

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