My Cancer Story

An Evocative Poem: Threshold, by Newton Smith

Posted 31 March 2016

I was sent this beautiful poem by my friend Denise, who got it from, where Larry Robinson posted it. I am grateful for the sequence of connections that brought it to me — this piece describes my state of mind better than anything I have written.

It has happened.
You thought you had some control
of your life
and that you were in a place
you understood
in a time that moved
from a past you knew
to a future that followed
in a more or less straight line.

But here you are at the edge
of a shore, the shallow waves
washing over your feet
taking the sand you stand on
away and suddenly you wonder
if all the ground beneath you
is disappearing.

You have stepped through the threshold.
The door closed and locked behind you.
You are on the other side.
You try to forget it, distract yourself,
but nothing works.

You check your messages.
The doctor’s office left a number
on your phone.
Is it is a blood test result,
survival rate for treatment,
or days left to live?

Now you are alone.
After the panic subsides you stand there
looking around.
Everything is fresh,
colors are vivid,
you can smell scents,
even subtle ones,
and your hearing is sharp.

You feel the breeze on your skin
and the tickle of hairs moving
across your brow.
You are pierced through
with the inexplicable joy
at having nothing.

The sand forms around your foot
and the water wipes out all traces of your path.
Everywhere you turn there is something new
and the space around you
holds you gently
as it spills out and becomes
a part of the expanding world.

So many things are remarkable now.
Here is the freedom that always frightened you.
You have forgotten your name
and it does not matter.



Sad that we lose all these wonderful senses
living our lives, only to be caught up in the world of achieving goals and if only I could do this, then I would be happy, putting off connecting with friends and family because “my life has become so busy”. The simple pure joys of children who require little to be happy if only we could stay there.

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