NCI* Chat

(*National Cancer Institute)

I quit my job today while black closed in
To wrap me in that
Blanket of despair –
And ‘loss of hope’ for others
Swept on by to laugh and mock their
Efforts to get up again and face their lives
Of sickness, stress and change.

It caught me so off guard --
No sickness felt or limit to my hand.
Yet Time it was that made the change –
No time to follow-through now
Giv’n the shifts emerging
Deep within the structures of our school.

Too bad – it had its strengths
As three rough legs were fashioned, honed, and fixed
To make a place of rest
Or rough-hewn table where
The bread for mind
And drink refreshing might each day
Give sustenance for newly well
Or those who’d stumbled in the dark of day
Confused or tired within their jobs – or not.

Time – so much now the tools are gone
But only fair to others unaware
Themselves how issues plans and hopes
Find best support if structure's well designed
When small – and rightly fit.
Then larger grown, will not create
More problems and despair – frustrating
By mis-shape and fragile stance
More hopes – so many more --
Of those who’ll come for food and drink
And find frustration – like I myself
In fields of health and works of cuts and cures.
Because they did not take the time
To fix their legs, we stumble now
And fight to keep despair from others
As we work and try to fix our table strong.

I clicked and prayed this time there’d be a human
On the chat-line made for those of us outstanding in the dark
In need of guidance – food for hope.

Then words – ‘How may I help?’ – Another trick
Of automated scorn? I push ahead – this time
Perhaps – ‘How long T3 to 4?’ or ‘T3 to N1 deep
In the gut?’ A pause of fear – then red words flash
“An agent types response” and hope springs up – perhaps
Their table stronger and their servers wait my clarifying words.

They take the time to show the way around the bend
To see that speck of tunnel-light despite the
Complex stumbles of my words.
I fear so much they’ll hurry on, as long lines
Wait their help – but no – they stop and hear and show
The way back to my shop. I nod
And thank with tears then head off now with strength
Returning – firm resolved to stop myself
And show the way even while we build and fix our hopeful stool.

Each person helped, helps thousands more as leaven
Lifts the loaf and spreads our love
With cell-dividing power –
Surpassing cancer’s fruitless pace –
Victorious in one hour.