by Lisa Molina

I am still waiting
in the pediatric cancer
transplant unit.

Ten days
and nights.
So far.

Will his body embrace
the donated cord
blood cells?

(As I once embraced
him as a young infant
and child?)

Or reject them?
Refuse them?
Causing his death.

The children
on the other sides
of two walls

of our room
have whispered
their final breaths.

My child is still breathing.
Living a life
between deaths.

What is he dreaming?
Has he descended to the depths?
Lying in a dark cave?

Lazarus awaiting?

I am still waiting.

Originally published in a slightly different form in Amethyst Review, as “Waiting for Life.”

PAINTING: Red Circle on Black by Jiro Yoshihara (1965).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My son, whose birthday happens to be March 24th, the same as Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s, is a three-time cancer survivor, and endured an anonymous, unrelated double-cord blood transplant at the age of 13. In this poem, I try to capture the feeling of that liminal, purgatory-like space between life and death, when I waited and wondered if my son’s body would accept or reject the donated-cord blood cells. Rejection would mean death. He had no immune system whatsoever at the time, was heavily sedated, and has no memory of those days that we were waiting, which took place from December 15-December 27. I have purposely left this poem open-ended, since it is the Waiting that is the focus, and, during each of those days, I was in agony while “Still Waiting,” and in another respect, I am still waiting to process and understand it all. My son is now 25 years old. He has a BA in Political Science from Texas State University, and works at the Department of Treasury. We are so grateful he has remained cancer-free all these years, and his immune system has re-grown from the transplant cells.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: While not bingeing on her new favorite writer’s works, Lisa Molina can be found working with students with special needs, writing, singing, playing the piano, or marveling at nature with her family. She has lived in Austin, Texas, since earning her BFA at the University of Texas. Her poetry has been featured in Trouvaille Review, Beyond Words Magazine, Poems in the Afterglow, Sad Girls Club Literary Blog, Ancient Paths, The Poet Magazine, The Daily Drunk, Tiny Seed Journal, Down in the Dirt Magazine, and Amethyst Review. You can read her poetry at