Footsteps and Stars: An Anthology

By Catherine Evans Schutte
Copyright © Catherine Evans Schutte
Last Modified: August 23, 2007

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When stricken with breast cancer in 2005, I thought it a prime opportunity to make notes and at last, write my book. However, when I came to write sentences, I could not. I was blocked. Choked up. The only output that came from the end of my pencil was "automatic verse" – spontaneous poetry. The thought came and vanished as rapidly as it had arrived. If not immediately documented, the idea went into infinity. The poems are simple stuff. However, in their absolute spontaneity, they capture the precise moment of my pain, shame, frustration, humiliation, hope and joy during my illness. My poems have been my personal deliverance.

They are a log of my journey to Hell and back.

The drama began 25th. April 2005. I don't smoke, drink, keep fit, eat well and have always presented myself for the mammogram. Never a shadow. This time, instead of a cloudless black sky, my x-rays showed a mass of cumulus clouds with long fluffy tails.

One week later, I was in the clinic, total right mastectomy and removal of four tumors and thirteen lymph glands; eight of which had already metastasized. A strong dose of chemotherapy quickly followed and in turn, radiotherapy. The latest preventative drugs failed.

These poems track my journey. Cancer is insidious. It is not a normal disease. It is an endurance test. Every cell and sinew in the body is affected. The physique metamorphoses to a monster. A leper. Nothing stays the same. The body incinerates rots and then tries to renew itself. Broken bones wrapped in plaster are visible to the naked eye. Cancer is not.

These poems will let you know precisely how your loved one with cancer feels – and thinks.

If you love someone with cancer, be gentle and kind. Comfort them. Do whatever falls into that category.

That's all. That's a lot. There is not much else that you can do.

Medicine treats, but love cures. Love powers the stars.

The Appointment - 20th. April 2006

It was serious

The marker has
Risen
All we can do is
Wait
No one knows

She explained the signs
That something may be amiss

If there is

There is no need to guess
Tired, don't eat
A headache
Sinus - it's gone to your brain
A new pain
An unidentified twinge
A pimple
A sore
Anything that you cannot explain
She wished me courage

She knows the
Statistics
"Go home", she uttered
"Write your book"

And she opened the door.

The Family Pet - 7 th. Oct. 2006

Wish that I were

A family pet
A dog or cat
A bird

It does not matter what
And if I were the

Family pet

The food
The drink
Would be just there
Morning noon and night

At the door
Or on my mat.
It does not matter
Where. Just there.


The Eternal Soldier

The war is over
The battle won

Grass is green
Flowers bloom.

But wait
I see smoke
Another battle
To fight

To win

Called to the
Front line
Again


About the Author

Catherine Evans Schutte entered Planet Earth on sunbeam number 31031947. Point of entry was the Brighton Community Hospital, Melbourne Australia. At that time, the world was healing and repairing from the Second World War and Edith Piaf was in Paris singing "La Vie en Rose".

Catherine is widely traveled. She has taught English in Paris, studied at Harvard, and married in Geneva. She returned to her home town in 1994. However, grief returned her to her beloved France where she now lives high on a hilltop in the Villa Printemps.

Catherine is the author of numerous technical manuals and the correspondent for French newspaper - LA MONTAGNE. Catherine. E. Schutte can be reached at catherine.schutte@wanadoo.fr.


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