A Mother’s Litany—How to Prepare for a Child’s Hospital Stay
Shake the sand from your beach bag.
Throw in your child’s favorite lovey.
Try not to wonder about next summer.
Pack a comfy sweater. You will sit
in the window seat and watch the mail truck
wending its way through neighborhood streets
delivering letters, bills, and coupons
for back to school supplies. You will
shiver and burrow into the sweater
like it’s your mother’s womb.
Toss in a pen. When you ask the doctor
if they got it all, he/she will look at a spot
on the wall past your left shoulder and tell you
about grades and stages, well-differentiated
and encapsulated, clear margins. When you ask
again, they will say the same thing
in different order. You’ll need those words
so you can Google them on your phone.
Stay calm when the Make-a-Wish
volunteer walks into the room.
It does not mean your child is terminal.
Everyone on the oncology floor gets a wish.
Do your best to ignore where you are.
Tell yourself you don’t belong.
Tell yourself someone will walk in soon
and apologize for the dreadful lab results mix-up.
Bargain with the universe. Believe in hope.
Victoria Melekian lives in Carlsbad, California. Her stories and poems have been published in print and online anthologies and she’s twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.