Installment 5 in a life lived backwards. This was our first off-treatment scan.
In this darkened room, we are looking
for signs this horror has returned.
For you, we make a game of this–
jelly belly and Superman pictures.
In a lead drape, your mother holds
your hands as the x-ray lays
a gunsight on your back.
I first saw you in the shadows
of an ultrasound. Like some distant
traveler from nothingness
into light, you journeyed for months,
drawing nearer. Now, in the shadows
of your own body, we are seeking
deadly signs, the ghosts
of what should not be there.
“Turn him on his stomach,” says the tech.
She works the wand across
your back three times, and then
a fourth. “I’m going to call in
the radiologist.” She leaves the room
and the three of us, suspended.
Five minutes from now,
the radiologist will enter, he will
peer into the dark cathode tube,
tell us the shape they’ve seen
is only fat–your body restoring itself,
returning to health. But in the stillness
before he comes, you sleep
on the table–breath slow and steady–
as your mother and I sit silent
in the dim light of the machine
and imagine you falling
back into darkness, in shadows
beyond skilled hands in latex
or your parents’ desperate grasp.