Just finished reading Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology, published by Mansfield Press and edited by the late Priscila Uppal and Meaghan Strimas. The book takes its title from the last poem in it by Uppal herself where she talks metaphorically about her relationship with her body: We are now that couple no one want to/ see in public; ...we blame each other's childhoods; I am no longer the love of your life. (She died just before the book came out, of synovial sarcoma.)
There are over a hundred poems in the book. There are tender poems and angry poems and curious poems and introspective poems. Poems of loss, of remembrance. Of hope. Of resignation.
"We all know someone" begins the blurb on the back, and isn't it true? My mom's had it three times. My husband has one kidney. My brother-in-law. So many friends, many of whom are survivors, but not all. My cousin, who died at 43, same age as her mother, my aunt. Same age, coincidentally, as Priscila Uppal.
My poem is about that aunt, my mother's big sister, Beth Alexander. I don't remember her well, but I do recall her laugh which was extraordinary. She and her family came to enjoy Kootenay Lake for a month every summer and that last one I remember lots of whispered conversations that stopped when I came in the room and later, I remember my mother and grandmother flying off to Saskatoon to see her when they got the call that the end was in sight. They didn't get there in time. I remember not knowing what to say.
I'm grateful to the editors for giving her a page in this anthology.
|Sisters and cousins, 1952|
Me and my mother Daisy, Beth's sister.
My aunt is holding her daughter, Dorcean, who was about 10 months old here.
The book is available from the publisher, here, or from your local bookstore.