Sex After Prostate Surgery
    By Adrian Magnuson

There is nothing that stills the mind like the word,
cancer.  It doesn’t even matter if the word is meant
for you, or for the friend whose hand you now hold. 
Or not at first, anyway.

But then it sets in; sets down roots, clawing
like the crab it is until that one word
is all you can hear. 
That is what happens second.

Diagnosis is third, the what, where,
and why of it.  The doctor is speaking
but you stopped listening after he said,

The odds come next, Jimmy the Greek analysis
called prognosis. All you can imagine
in this fourth and final
are horsemen of the apocalypse riding your way.

Fifth is what you drink late at night,
considering options:  poisonous seeds, ray guns
at twenty centimeters.  Or maybe a game of Clue: 
Dr. Smith, in the Operating Room, with the Scalpel.

Cancer is a game too, a game of chance
you play to beat the odds.  But it’s a game of skill
as well, a word game.  Object? 
Change cancer into can-sur-vive.

But after survival, comes the rest of your life. 
The surgery has left its marks.
And you don’t think yourself
the same man anymore.

Doubt creeps in, and that only makes it worse. 
But then one night you dream
of water-skiing long ago,
when we were all young.

Maybe it was a friend, or maybe it was your uncle. 
Or if you were lucky,
maybe it was you. 
But there was always a boat and a lake.

So much depends
upon a bright-red runabout
with a shiny, green Sea-Horse engine,
pulling a skier.

Back then, the skier was trim and muscular,
the engine new and well tuned,
the lake like glass, and he popped
out of the water at first pull.

Today, the skier has succumbed to gravity
and to circumstance. Your thirty-horse Johnson
has seen better days, the lake is choppy,
and you can’t quite get him up.

You take him for a spin now and then,
but always with the same result.
The skier rises then falls back, or flops
to one side or the other.

But then you think,
maybe if I warm up the engine a while
before giving it the gas.
Maybe that would do the trick.

And it does!  But only when the lake is a mirror
or when you concentrate
like some magician
performing levitation.

But it’s not reliable, and, sadly,
a tune-up is out of the question.
They don’t carry the parts anymore,
and the warranty expired long ago.

But then you remember that engine mechanic. 
He rummages through his medicine cabinet
for fuel additive. You put ten milligrams
in your tank, cross your fingers, and kick it over.

The old Johnson sputters but catches. 
You give it a good warm-up and hit the throttle. 
Then, like a 20-year-old Phoenix,
though now in faded glory, the skier rises.