Open Letter to Doxorubicin*

Let’s play one last game of hopscotch.
It’ll be fair because I’ll get out of
my wheelchair and balance
on one leg.

Our playing field will be thirteen
of these floor tiles you’ve
made me memorize.
And I’ll do it with my eyes closed.

But you’ll still sneer through,
your presence in the room lighting a
chthonic crimson behind my eyelids.

If you win,
then wrap a fist around a heated knife.
And with this smoking mirror,
pry railroad tracks of stitches and
mottled scar tissue off my chest.

And with the other hand,
squeeze silent my pulse.

But if I win,
bring me your severed scalps.
Seven spent IV bags of bloody refuse,
plastic curdled and sun-hardened
in these harsh fluorescent lights.

So that I can hang them in the doorway
when a smile of spilled wine or
a silent ruby on a banded finger
beckons you back.
When red is the color of the night.

*Drug used in chemotherapy, often for the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma. Due to its vibrant color and debilitating side effects, it is commonly known as “red devil” or “red death.”