I really wasn't looking forward to chemo, but when I got home I'd been sent an email about Jo Bell's Guardian Poetry Workshop on the subject of personal archaeology which proved a very useful (and, given the circumstances, thought-provoking) distraction. The brief was to write about what people would glean about you from the things you left behind. Some people may think this a depressing subject, but I actually found it helped me rationalise the welter of experiences and emotions of the previous seven weeks and then look forward, knowing very clearly, what matters most to me now - my creativity, spending time with my family and friends, music, laughter and love.

Sooner or Later

I'd like it to be later
so that there will be
more things to find; photos,
that include Auntie Sam,
in my niece's wedding album;
a handful of collections - titled to intrigue
more than a passing glance from browsers
on Charing Cross Road or ABE;
souvenirs from New York, Assisi
and other places, not yet travelled.

They will sort through old reels of Sylko,
a pair of pinking shears, Swiss Army Knife
and war issue mending kit that 'un-memoried'
will be just things to keep ... or not.
They will keepsake the things that resonate;
the purple flower necklace, the sparkly blue pen,
the brass and copper candlestick (silver-soldered),
the camera, the bowl of crystal eggs, pebbles.

I'm trying not to think of sooner;
that there may be insufficient days,
to publish more than one collection,
to use up the ink in the pen ...
the thread on the reels ...
to choose more pebbles on the beach
with my four year old niece,
to lie within the circle
of my beloved's arms
my head curled beneath his chin ...

But ... whenever
there will be no bones, nothing to indicate
that in this upended summer, I had
a lump, a mastectomy, a pixie crop,
an Angostura-hued cocktail of exotic drugs.
No, just a water colour in the Book of Remembrance
of a small, chagrined dragon - captioned

'Samantha Newbury - Poet
1966 - ... whenever
(450 million years of evolution,
up in smoke ... whoops ...)'

© Samantha Newbury August 2011