January 13, 2016

What I Think About As My Mum Battles Cancer. {Poem}

Warning: A few poetic f-bombs ahead!


Where words are placed, misplaced, or not placed—this and all other details are so important to me.

Poetry is my main jam, so I love disregarding rules and experimenting with space and the senses. I write, and no piece is ever complete; they will evolve and eventually dissolve…


What I Think About As My Mum Battles Cancer.

I thought,

I don’t want to think about important things anymore because I don’t want to, and I wrote utilitarian haikus:

these days I listen

to Rihanna because I

don’t want to think—

Too thoughtless to trap a final syllable, we washed our clothes in the sink and traipsed up and down the mountain road wordlessly, perturbingly, your new sneakers hurting your decaying toes, and one day I thought, fuck she’s vexing me today, because you said you knew all the words in the dictionary, and I returned my rolling eyes to D.H Lawrence and decided we were Paul and Gertrude for just a little while, while I jerked away from your tired hand as you tried to sweep hair from my face, and I knew it hurt you but it hurt to love you.

I only cried once and I was angry about it, like when you came out after the operation all cute and smiley from the drugs and potpourri packed heart and futile motherly guilt that has stained everything I am, and as I wiped dried blood, orange, off the trunk of your neck and along the edge of your chin with grape scented wet wipes I thought, fuck I want a smoke, I want to stop feeling, run—out, out before they figure out which door is yours, but I stayed sitting by and holding your, and still I don’t think I was how I was meant to be.


When you were in the operating room I messaged Flo:

mum’s getting her booby cut off

ow. is that a good thing though?


wehhooo. how are you?

so sleepy ha, not able to concentrate. listening to the sickest album though


Author: Joanna Cho

Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Unsplash


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Joanna Cho