Six months before my sixtieth year
I’m diagnosed with breast cancer.
The biopsy reveals it’s triple negative.
Meaning nothing positive.

Aggressive, wildly mutating,
strangely behaving cells, not even nourished
by the hormones other breast cancers lap up.
A cancer hard to treat,
harder to survive.

Once shielded and swaddled in bras,
my breast is now radiated redder
than my baby-oil burned body
when I was sixteen, and suffering
for beauty was noble and wise.
I’m carboplatin-infused to a fevered shaking.
My circumference shrinks to twenty city blocks
for six weeks. Then I rejoin the living.
My horizons stretch two hundred miles of familiar
landscape. But I’m unfamiliar.

Parched islands taunted sailors
who dreamed of water, died of thirst.
In the Galapagos sea iguanas sneeze out
the ocean’s salt, swallow its water.
Sea lions claim the beach, indifferent
to human footprints around them.
Tortoises born old carry their shells,
their half-ton bodies, for over a century.

I need the arid equator, the finches selected
to continue their species. The specks 600 miles
west of South American land that flourish
without us.