by Charlotte Matthews
As the days shorten, less light, I find myself wishing to transform, somehow, to become the kind of being that flourishes in hibernation and emerges lighter, less weighed down by it all. In a way cancer provided this for me. Once the treatments were over, once I got my pass to live each day outside the hospital walls, there was a certain euphoria, but also a kind of odd distortion. I felt changed and out of proportion. Here’s a poem I wrote to illustrate that. Before reading it, please refresh your memory back to 2014 and the man who made it all the way into the East room before getting caught by Secret Service.
White House Fence Jumper
Mohammad Ali trained in combat boots
so he’d feel lighter in the ring. I heard this
on the radio the day he died, pictured him
sweating and bouncing, shadowboxing
in front of a mirror. His skin so slick and
luscious there’s nothing more to say.
Maybe the man who bolted across
the East Lawn didn’t feel himself
moving at all, maybe what he saw was his
mother backlit in a doorway so she
looked less encumbered, more herself
and suddenly understood her in a way
he never had before, manicured
grass blurring beneath him.
Distortion, in geography, means
if you take the earth and make it
flat, parts get left out. What does
it mean for the rest of us?