The tread of the nurses leaving the room next door tells the woman her neighbor has died. The language of the hospital is one she has unwillingly, painstakingly learned: the rhythm of machines, the counting of pills, the measuring of words, the shadowy news of an MRI. And in these harrowing, eloquent poems, she opens this world, this language of illness, to us, revealing how deeply these words and rhythms are also the measure of life. The views of her doctor are also evocatively expressed - his anger, struggles, and hopes - as he speaks of the delicate bond he forms with his ill patients. Composed by a distinguished medical oncologist whose literary work has been performed in venues throughout the country, the poems of ""Not God"" document one woman's encounter with cancer, a journey through illness whose end, while inevitable, is also unknown. Alternating with the words of her doctor, these poems form a remarkable monologue of the flesh becoming word, and of the body inventorying - and finally transcending - its limitations.
Marc J. Straus is an oncologist and the author of nearly 100 scientific papers on cancer research. His poetry has been published in One Word (1994) and Symmetry (2000) both by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern, and in many journals, Including Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Tikkun, and TriQuarterly.