Nursing the gentle curve of afternoon,

She lets the road guide her through reverie.

How many times has she passed through these woods,

These hills, imprinted firm in memory?

Today felt like the same familiar rite

Toward home, home’s safety, home’s security.

But thoughts were intercepted in mid-flight,

Jarred by today’s misguided move

That slipped from practice common and well-proved.

Sliding the gentle curve of new shaved skin

Between her fingers firm and scalpel keen,

She cut through flesh, opened a deep path down

Into the tumor dark, its root unseen.

The blade dug deep, then tripped,

Entangled by the plume of red mistake

As if blood’s river lay within the break.

Hands rushed to close the broken artery.

Blood swelled, pulsed out in fury that the ache anticipates,

Then stopped.

Flow stemmed,

Aborted operation barely saved.

Life’s liquid was alone not lost today.

Her confidence was also washed away.

The sutures closed by unfamiliar hands.

Revealing doubts that before had no sway

Now shake an ego on which courage stands.

Soft sun sends shimmers through the sharpened swirl

Of scarlet leaves that clamor and unfurl

As she drives by the turn to comfort’s place,

Seeking a way to warm her bone-deep chill,

Drawn by the call of the transcendent grace

That saves the heart and guides the hands that heal.