black-eyed susan by Eleanor Stanton

black-eyed susan

I’m a hot flash, molten gold
drawing your eye up
from poor and rocky soil
to my perky chocolate brown cones

call me gloriosa daisy
but don’t compare me to
that pale cousin of mine
prey of ambivalent lovers

they might pluck and discard her
she’s that forgettable
but I’m no ditch flower
I’m a classic
I’m perennial

so what if I don’t fit in your
pre-planned designer bed
I don’t need to delight you
I delight myself

do you need the shade?
if so would you move
and stop putting
your shadow
on me?

some lies about cancer

that it is your fault
that it is God’s fault
that it is the hardest thing
you ever faced
that your insurance covers everything
that it will make a great book

that it will kill you
that it won’t kill you
that your friends will
be there for you
that it will give you better hair
that you won’t miss your breasts
that you want new ones

that it will make you thinner
that it will make you ugly

that it will make you stronger
that it will make your marriage stronger
that you will survive it intact
that it can make you less of a woman

that there is a reason for everything

* * *

Eleanor Stanton is an ordained minister and breast cancer survivor, a status that changed her profile and her career. She serves as an interfaith hospital chaplain in upstate New York, writing to name and celebrate the luminous moments of everyday life. Eleanor lives with her husband in Saratoga Springs, New York, with their two rescued dogs. Her writing has been published in “Many Waters,” the literary magazine of SUNY Empire State College, and her essay, “Summer Serenade,” was selected for broadcast on NPR radio station WAMC in Albany, New York. Her on-again-off-again blog can be found at