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Waiting for the Pathology Report

by Laura N.

It's huge & red & raised & jagged
with black nylon sutures sticking out.
The kind of scar I thought I might get.
But the surgeon did a neat job on mine
it's neat, and not at all red, beautifully sewn together.
Your scar may disappear from sight, 
become hidden beneath your fur,
but I'm not sure yet. 
It depends on the report we get back from the pathologist.
Depends on whether you live long enough for your fur to grow back.
It's the second time in two months 
that I'm waiting for a pathology report.
The veterinarian said it might be a carcinoma, 
and that if it is, it's the aggressive kind.
She said she'd cut away as much as possible during the surgery.
"To get clear margins," I responded, not even saying it as a question.
I know what these words mean now—aggressive carcinoma, clear margins.
I went to get you last night after your surgery.
When you saw me, you strained to get out of the cage, 
even though you were still woozy and huge-eyed from the surgery.
I picked you up.
"Hi, little girl," I whispered.
Your paws were clammy against my skin.
I held you, stiff and shivering in my arms, 
as I talked to the vet technician.
Three to five days to wait for the pathology report, 
just as with mine.
Meanwhile your scar is jagged across your back, 
and so ugly and red.
I know it must sting and pull because you move gingerly right now,
Not leaping off the couch the way you usually do,
Or jumping up on the table to greet me.
You don't tend to this injury, the way you do more minor cuts,
You don't even lick this huge sewn-up gash—you just leave it alone.
Waiting for the pathology report.
I look around the apartment we've shared for the past twelve years.
Your water and kibble bowl are on the floor by the refrigerator,
Your favorite chair, lightly coated with your gray and tawny fur.
You sit now, curled up next to me, 
your eyes narrowing as you start to doze,
Unaware of what we're waiting for.