Category Archives: allegory

Counting Tiles

There are thirty two tiles
and two sprinklers in this room.
It is the third time
the technician has left and come back-
each time saying
she did not quite get the images she needed.

When I don’t count I think of my mother.
I think of how she was the same age I am
when she got her diagnosis.
Four years later she was dead.
Hers was pancreatic cancer.
They ask, over and over,
about my family history.
No genetic link.
I hold my breath and count tiles.

There are fifty four tiles
and four sprinklers in this room.
Again, I have been called back here
three times for the same thing.
Each time a little closer.
Each time, I hold the machine
and my breath and count tiles.

When I don’t count I think about the kids.
I think about how
even if I have to leave the world early
they will still have a mother to love them.
My heart shatters
and I wonder if it will show on the scans.
I hold my breath and count tiles.

There are sixty two tiles
and four sprinklers in this room.
I’m waiting for the doctor and counting.
I imagine it looks like a prayer
and it may be at this point.
I want them to tell me it is nothing.
That I will live longer than my mother did.
That my kids will not have to tell me goodbye.
That my love and I will grow old together
just as we promised.
I wipe my eyes, take a breath
and keep counting.