Self-Portrait as Migration
Awkward on land, the loud honking and long necks, snow geese gather en masse to meander in a muddy field, belie the beautiful swirl of white as they move through the November sky—as their bodies become a ghostly cloud without beak or feet, nothing but white feathers suspended in the air, like a magic trick. Trumpeter swans in a field sparser, with black beaks and a different song altogether. What happens in their flight over the snowy mountains? Thousands may drop dead in a Montana copper-contaminated lake. Thousands more, confused, grow tired, stray off course. In my body, cancer cells migrate from one terrain to another, healthy cells taking flight, hemispheres filling. I imagine my lymphocytes snow geese wings inside me, a cacophony of sound and the rush and wonder— which way will they fly? What will be left of me after the white flash of their path has disappeared?
I woke to the smell of smoke. Sunset was red haze. Our conversations were short, we tried not to breathe too deeply. The rain was on a holding pattern, just off the horizon. We gathered herbs that purified. We dreamed of ice. Under the mountains, the earth tried to shake us off. The oldest oak trees fell, people sheltered and burned in swimming pools, the screams of horses in the air. My brain couldn’t connect—my legs trembled, my speech slurred. You took me to the hospital, they tried to tether me with IVs. I was tied to a troubled body. We were tied to a troubled earth. You said it was too late to leave anyway.