Saturday, October 21, 2006

"There Is A Rainbow on the Stove"

By Claudia Ricci

So just now, I sat down to write this poem
about a rainbow.

I wrote it because I had to.

I wrote it because I had
cancer four years ago
and today when I woke up my chest felt tight (allergies? bronchitis? OR?)

I’m squeezed.
By body memories.

Twinges of this or that
Pulling me back
To that dreadful time.

Pulling me to worry
about what
could be
could be
could be.

Inside me

But I have to face them today.

I was doing yoga and started to feel the tightness the squeeze I had to burp I couldn’t I was bending over, this thought erupted,
“What if I were to have
Something horrific
esophageal cancer,
something deadly deadly deadly
caused by all that radiation
all those rays
I had
all those weeks
all those years ago.

I froze, I panicked
I took a break from yoga,
I went to the kitchen, I started to think about a rainbow
I don't know
I just started to write

be a laser for me, let the photons
sink layer by layer through
my skin

Behind my eyes, I see
a curve of redorangeyellowgreenblueindigoviolet
magic light
Let it soothe me, remove
the terrorist memories of four years ago.

In order to
forward, to HEAL

I must go
Back to FEEL
that foul swill of CHEMICALS at my throat

I must not hide
I must not stare
I must not be scared

by these
lingering there in the interstices
of my chest

I must reach delicately inside
And hold each of them up
to the sun
cup them in my hands
offer them up one by one to the rainbow for
cleansing, soothing, scouring…”

And this is as far as I got writing my poem
at that very moment my husband fixing his breakfast called to me in my study:

“Ooooh there is rainbow on the stove.”

I stopped typing. My stomach kind of dropped to the floor.

I called back,

“What did you say?”

“I said, ‘there is a rainbow on the stove.’”

I got up from the computer and heart pumping I walked into the kitchen and there
was indeed a thick little
on the stove.

Claudia Ricci is on the faculty at the University at Albany, SUNY, where she teaches English and journalism. She has been a fiction writer and a journalist for many years and published her first novel, Dreaming Maples, in 2002.


Johnny Ong said...

looks like u like to read, lots of books too

Anonymous said...

Dear Claudia,

Very cool poem.
Maybe rainbows are always all around us. We need to make ourselves see them.


Anonymous said...


This is moving...powerful. I admire your writing is graceful and muscular at the same time. I don't know how else to put it.


Lori said...

Wow. It seems that you have enough magical moments that you SHOULD believe. I am also to understand, through your writing, how being sick (even after you are cured) takes so long to leave you. It remeinds me of a soldier who's come home, physically unharmed, from a war.