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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

On My Knees I Beg You To Read This Blog Post

On my knees I beg you to read this blog post. Tara Hardy tells you everything I learned from being diagnosed with cancer, and my sister being diagnosed with cancer some months later. 

Read Tara Hardy. You won't regret it. 

Bone Marrow
by Tara Hardy

You will be standing in the market,
sorting through avocados,
when the band Kansas “Dust in the Wind”
will come pumping through the ceiling and you’ll think:
“Jesus, this song is gonna out live me.”

There are a few things that getting really sick illuminates.

1. Dieting is ridiculous. The way you look is beside the point.
The biggest gift you bring to any room is your heart.

2. You will ask anyone for money.
Will get on your knees to beg your enemy for help,
because you know that way down under all that animosity
is a deep and abiding love,
for why else would she hate you with such loyalty.

3. Things that used to taste bitter
suddenly turn to maple sugar in your mouth.
What you wouldn’t have for another year to grieve that man
you thought you loved more than your own bone marrow.

4. Suddenly everything will be so beautiful.
The halfhearted sunset. The rotting leaves. The way a rind hugs a lime.
Your own age spots. What you wouldn’t do to earn more of them.

5. Yes, you will drink liquid seaweed.
You’d stand on your head in a mini skirt
wearing no underpants in front of your ex’s new girlfriend
if you thought that it would make a difference,
but you won’t not ever be the same again.
This is neither good nor bad, it just is.
And anyway, too much suffering is caused
by trying to hold onto things.
There goes your youth. There goes your lover.
There goes your health, your wealth, your beauty,
all of them useful when they were around,
but there are other tools with which to cherish yourself now.

6. The first thing you give up
is the means of comforting yourself with thoughts of suicide.

7. The second thing you give up is pride,
and as you do, the world will come rushing forward.
It is fucking hard to ask for help,
but if you don’t, you will never know how much you matter,
or the fact that the only person who didn’t love you enough
is huddled inside your skin.

8. Your skin, your skin is the biggest gift you were ever given.
When the doctors first said, I might die
what surprised me
is that I didn’t wish I’d written more poems,
or even told people I loved them.

If I love you, you know.

What I wished is that I’d seen more the world, let its salt stick to me.
I spent so much time in my head and in my heart
that I forgot to live in my body.

Maybe that’s why she’s in trouble now.

I have been obsessed with achieving immortality through poetry,
but when I was told in no uncertain terms
that this rickety container has an actual expiration date,
I knew that immortality is bull shit,
so I left that hospital with a horse’s dose of right fucking now.

We don’t get to take anything with us
and anything we leave behind is not one foot still in life,
because once we are dust we are literally for the wind.

So on my agenda, with whatever time I have left, is joy.

Because, #9, anticipatory grief is absurd.

When I’m dead, I won’t be here to miss anything
and engaging in pre-missing seems like an indulgence.

It not that there isn’t pleasure in weeping –
why else would we do it so much –
but I’ve got ocean’s to float, I’ve got lava to peep,
I’ve got a balcony in the South of France on which to slow dance
with a lover that I love down to the spaces between her eyelashes.

Poems will happen because that is how I process life,
but I will no longer mistake them for living.

If there is any advice I would have to give
to my formerly non-sick self, or maybe you, it would be this:
Eat the avocados, love yourself down to the marrow and out past the rind,
make stalwart enemies out of good people
who will hate you with their whole hearts,
make it mutual and unconditional
and this way you will never be alone with love.

I don’t want to be finite,
but the fact that we are is what makes even the terror exquisite.

So, step out from behind your walls,
let the world rush forward, rise to meet it.

Turn your precious attention towards God’s most tangible gift,
this physical world,
and while you still have the chance,
let your beloved skin salt in the wind.  

~ Tara Hardy is the working class queer femme poet who founded Bent, a writing institute for LGBTIQ people in Seattle, WA.

Thank you to Stephanie Sugars for introducing me to this poem. Stephanie Sugars blogs about living with advanced breast cancer at her blog here.


  1. Thank you for sharing this Danusha!

  2. Wonderful poem. I really enjoyed it and the focus on the physical as being a gateway and gift of the spiritual. How easily we forget!

    1. Gordon, yes, that is exactly what I loved about it, too.