Waiting for the Explosion on the Corner of Fear and Panic
by Michele Bombardier

When the pin had been pulled from the grenade with the diagnosis,
I waited for the explosion on the corner of fear and panic.
I don’t remember calling her, the doorbell ring
or opening the door, only sitting on the couch, her holding me,
letting me cry against her chest, allowing my full-throated agony,
my unbridled despair. I howled silently.

Still, she did not waiver. I drenched her shirt.
She waited, her own tears a soft rivulet
down my head. The words prognosis . . . recurrence . . .
loss of function . . . hit me like shrapnel.
She made herself cushion, shielded me with her body, a tableau
etched, a memory that continues to heal

all these years later, after the procedures and infusions,
when the deafening, blinding light
finally faded into a long, thin, silver scar.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Waiting for the Explosion at the Corner of Fear and Panic” is a poem about receiving a catastrophic diagnosis. Decades of working with people with a devastating diagnosis still did not prepare me for the calamity.  The power of someone waiting alongside, bearing witness, is what the poem is about.

IMAGE: “Snow White with Hand Grenade” street art (Bristol, UK) by Banksy.

Michele headshot 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michele Bombardier is a Northwest poet whose work has appeared or soon to appear in Floating Bridge, Sukoon, The Examined Life Journal, Freshwater, Lost River Review, The Moon, and others. For over 30 years, she has worked as a neurological specialist speech and language pathologist with people with autism, stroke, and traumatic head injuries.