The usual ringtone couldn't prepare me
I'd never heard my boyfriend cry
In fact rarely have I seen him angered or more than frustrated
His emotions run at cool temperatures
His heart pumps propylene glycol, not blood.
Instead of the regular calm collection
Of wits and temper
His voice cracked
I could here his words break in two
His stifled sobs broke into our conversation.
Go to your dinner he said
I couldn't; I wouldn't
I called to cancel
Then followed that call
With another to him
For three hours maybe.
Though the time connected was nothing new
It was a new kind of conversation for us
He leaned on me
And for once it seemed I took the pressure
And didn't buckle beneath it.
When I heard it might be cancer
I stayed calm
Sent word for family and friends to say a few prayers.
Not a false alarm
More like a fire drill, a call to arms
Smoking has to stop
The inflammation causing pain in the chest and back
All a warning, a violently frightening alert
To a stubborn man who doesn't care often when he receives health advice
Smoking and drinking go hand in hand with eating, sleeping and bathing.
But maybe this time
It will take
This warning gets attention.
Doctors, X-rays and CT scans aren't just a Greek chorus of Cassandras
The Oracle at Delphi, a Papal decree
Telling a stubbornly calm man
To take heed, to listen, to be well and to take care
So that he can be there
When we need each other.