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by Jan Hutslar

It was May sixth
ten years ago.
I went to sleep
on a sterile
and did not
the cut through
my abdominal wall,
my muscles sliced
like a
box cutter through cardboard.
I did not see the blood
or hear what
they were saying,
as they
located and cut out my
uterus and ovaries.
What did they
talk about during
their routine day
of work?
The weather, sports,
their weekend plans,
or did they comment
 on my pale
naked body?
I woke up on
May seventh,
seeing a room full
of fear and
pain, reflected
in all those eyes
that took
pity on
They didn't know
that I
was finally waking
up from
much longer
than one day
of sleep.
They thought
I was
I thought
I was finally
waking up to my life.
Here I am,
against the odds,
Looking out
my window at
the green green
I call home.
The trees
dripping, the pond
pock-marked with a million
raindrop ripples,
     a great blue heron
lifts off and
 in her
seems to dip her wing to me,
in acknowledgement.
Looking back
at ten years.
Three thousand six hundred and
fifty days that
I didn't know if
I would have.
What have I done with them?
I wrote a poem,
fell in love,
painted a picture,
baked bread,
built a house,
found my voice,
laughed, wanted, cried, sang,
hated, loved.
Met myself in the
rubble of my heart,
sometimes found god in the chaos
of my life.
I am taking up
the stepping stones
that got me here.
Grateful for
the solid hard
rock that
I have walked,
sometimes doubling back
and walking them
again and again.
I stand by the
river with a
full of stone
and struggle.
I thought I would
dump the whole
load - all at once,
or one by one
into the water.
Watching the current
flow and eddy
around the rough edges.
I'm not sure
Perhaps I will build
a small teahouse
where I can sit quietly
and invite god
to join me for
a cup
now and then.

Jan Hutslar lives in a solar-powered house in the woods of northern New York with her daughter, where she enjoys being ALIVE. She is 12 years cancer-free after ovarian cancer.