Poetry Pause: Carolyne Van Der Meer — ABVD

Poet name: Carolyne Van Der Meer Poem title: ABVD Poem: Adriamycin named after the sea a burnt colour like a terse word indicated as red, not quite sharp with an edge of earth I am at war with it “red devil” is what they call it see it injected feel the waves of nausea as it is pushed into my body it is making me a Martian, an alopeciac travels jagged through my blood taking my hair with it Bleomycin colourless the Japanese launched a year after my birth bomb whose birth staves off my death after-effect: pulmonary fibrosis lungs constrict, strangling another kind of death inject anabolic steroids but I don’t get to feel that rush there are sores in my mouth, blood, lesions everything tastes wrong “Magic Mouthwash” for the fallout shelter of oral caverns a brief respite, but my nails darken, become ridged fall out of my toes, no respite for them even 15 years later Vinblastine sin blasts me my silent joke, never spoken another colourless poison first isolated by men called Noble and Beer names unlike their protégé, found in a Madagascar periwinkle plant so pretty and exotic so nasty and toxic punching me as it steals platelets leaving lovely bruises to remind grafting to intestines, taking them on a ride, undulating stomach I want to vomit but the periwinkle plant is so pretty, I should just be thankful and forget its hateful swoooooosh oh, the rollercoaster DTIC or dacarbazine but it is DTIC to me DTIC DETOC my body in DETOX the irony that toxins detoxify does not escape me nor the laughter, still stuck in my throat a cytotoxic drug, impeding the formation of more tumours it razes me to nothing pale yellow, insidious it slides through the tube like an albino snake, and when it reaches its point of entry, leaves its bite burns the thin skin stretched across my portacath, tiny venomous treads along my veins addicted to life, see the track marks DTIC DETOX me ABVD me back to life End of poem. Credits: Copyright © Carolyne Van Der Meer Originally published in Journeywoman (Inanna Publications, 2017) Carolyne Van Der Meer is an award-winning fiction writer, poet and journalist who has two published books to her credit: Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2014) and Journeywoman (Inanna Publications, 2017). Two collections of poetry are forthcoming, a short, bilingual collection about the life of Marguerite Bourgeoys from Guernica Editions in 2020, and a full-length collection called Sensorial from Inanna in 2021. Carolyne’s work has been published in literary journals in Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, the U.K. and the United States. She is the Deputy Editor and Reviews Editor of UK-based Brontë Studies, the only journal fully dedicated to the study of the Brontë family and their works. Carolyne holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Literature from University of Ottawa and Concordia University respectively, and has a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers. In addition to working as a public relations professional, she is a lecturer in McGill University’s Public Relations and Marketing Communications program.