“Being is. Being is in-itself. Being is what it is.”—Jean-Paul Sartre

I have spent days in a barren place. Red disappeared. Starless. Stormy. Uncertain.

Still, until awakened by the wind of your breath.

I live in a rainfallen place. The rain turns to hard hail as I step outside the sanctuary of home. The hail is unexpected and hardbreaking as each moment before me turns from a sad drop to an immense body of drowning uncharted waters. My cheeks, my hands, my heart pricked by the weight of rain turned cold, ugly, and gray.

Still, I follow the habit of my body. I eat, sleep, work, play, pray.

I’m a writer, a dreamer, a poet. I wake every morning for words. My barren and weary soul still smells of soft flannel and the lump in my left breast throbs, its language unknown to me. Its shape. Its hardness. Its appearance. Unexpected.

I wrest from others, their stories. The woman sitting next to me wears a thousand shades of black silently mourning her barrenness. We have become women of barren breasts in a world of toxicity and unusual acts of living.

Still, I wait even though I have finished the chapbook on waiting, and enter my next extremity, my chapbook on being—a lament of barrenness and every bit of humanity.

The truth is, the universe will continue without me and forget me, but this moment of time—perfect and beautiful, new and flawed—this barren moment of trapped unknowing about the lump that grows in my left breast beside my heart, this barren moment pulsates with that undeniable fear behind every great testament of expression.

My being, a litany of steps and strides and gallops. It takes so much work for me to survive.

I have run from it all, the torture of being silenced, from sickness. Everything about me, everywhere I’ve been, all my habits—my meditative walks, my brain-dialogue, my postmarked letters, my nail-scratched tables, my stainless-steel scissors, and my fragile-glass windows—all my unchecked fury, covering my eyes at the darkest moments of pained illness, slip away during these days of being in a barren place.

And then, yesterday bliss stumbles in. An old friend from another lifetime visits and kicks me from behind. Another friend walks me around myself and whispers you cannot give up, you cannot give in. A third friend tells me to overcome my limitations, my fear. My barrenness is torn open and volcanic lava, the poet’s red heat seeps through the broken cracks, triggering landmines I left to break the boredom of my barrenness. I can do that. I can conjure up imagination the way others construct missiles and drones of steel traversing a wide divide of traveling space.

The narrative pauses. Being in barren time, the lump I found cushioned in the tissue of my left breast (undetected by mammography), the lump grows inside me like a wound-up handmade bomb soon to be a needled-biopsied bomb entered into the breast cancer database of numbers:

// every two minutes, one in eight women will be told she has breast cancer