By Grace Przywara
2nd Place, Poetry, Create | Encounter 2022
for Sheryl Grossman
The first time doctors tried to call it off,
I was still being knitted,
and a dropped stitch on one of my genes
looked an awful lot to them like tragedy:
a short, quiet, still life. Knit on, knit on.
Like a bud, I grew and grew
and the cancer did, too, and by my bed,
she said, You know, you don’t have to do this
anymore. It won’t take long. And in my softness,
in my smallness, barely conscious,
I asked her to leave the room.
Let me bloom—
I was doubted then and I’ll be doubted
again so please don’t ask me to doubt myself.
Despite its toil, I love my life:
I’m here to flourish. I’m worth the fight.
“Bloom” is an homage to disability rights activist Sheryl Grossman (1975–2022). I tried to tell this part of her story as succinctly, respectfully, and poetically as I could.