I was wearing my father’s sweater the day

he told me he had cancer—a midnight blue

crewneck with a mallard duck flapping both its wings

pressed on a cotton polyester blend. How I longed to be 

that green-headed bird—flying away. How I can still hear

the words tissue, cells, aggressive, echoing through

the phone. The shortness in my own breath as I listened.

I googled the life expectancy of someone with stage-four 

cancer. Repeated Sar-com-a like it could somehow change

the diagnosis. For days there was a lump in my throat after finding 

out he had also found one in his upper thigh. I don’t 

know what I was doing before that phone call. 

I don’t remember how I answered or how I said goodbye—

if I even did at all. What I do remember is this: the sound

of my mother’s voice, sad and uncertain. Cracking under

this new heaviness. How I could imagine my father receiving

the news, alone, in the doctor’s office. How scared he must

have felt. How, by the end of that phone call, I had relapsed—

pills in one hand—phone, still in the other.


Author Bio:

Andrea Lawler is a poet, essayist, and short story writer. She holds a degree in English Language & Literature. Her poetry collection, Let Me Take You Out of This Town, debuts in February 2023 from Bullshit Lit.