The portacath will help

says my doctor

It will deliver the chemotherapy to the bloodstream more effectively,

and I nod, and my parents nod, 

because what else can you do?

You nod. 

You say yes. 

You nod and say yes doctor


They will cut my chest to create a space

called the pocket.

This is where the port will sit

under my stretched skin, a metal lump.


They will cut my neck,

push the long thin tube through a vein there,

connect the port to my heart.


I wake up.

There’s a red, raw scar on my neck,

just like they said,

and another, with a hard lump beneath it

just below where my breasts will grow, 

one day.


Once I heal,

It is time to have a new kind of needle.

It will be better, they say,

and I think of my sticker books 

full of rewards for the many times

they couldn’t find my veins

and had to try, try again

six, seven times in my arms,

Blaming my body, 

blaming me gently, with a frustrated smile:

Your veins are so stubborn, they're barely there! 


So this port, this lump, this thing in my chest,

maybe it will be better?


I’m here in the room

waiting for the new needle,

the needle to end all needles.

The nurse says

Don’t worry it won’t hurt too much,

but she says something different with her eyes

and my parents move closer, 

to hold me?

To hold me still maybe, 

to hold me down maybe.


I’m not sure when I started screaming.

I think it may have been when I saw

The Hook:

big and silver and shiny and sharp,

coming toward me, 

now pushing through my stretched skin,

into the metal chamber in my chest.

The anesthetic cream is not enough, it hurts oh god it hurts!


Screaming, 

screaming, 

screaming.


Afterwards they flush the port,

so it will not get blocked.


I slip into sleep

And dream of shining hooks,

Catching me through the lips.