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Telling All My Secrets
by Ally Malinenko

He sits in the bedroom with me
like a coach
asking if I’m ready
and I nod
get up and then go sit back down
on the bed again

5 more minutes, I tell him

which makes him smile because it’s what I say
when it’s time to get up in the morning
and I don’t want to.

He tells me again
we don’t have to do this,
that we can let it go
if I want

but I shake my head
because it’s already been
seven months

seven months
and three surgeries
and 36 daily
radiation treatments
and countless doctors
and sleepless nights

because there’s already been
too many secrets and I can’t carry this forever
because I’m afraid nothing will ever
feel normal again

Okay, I say
I’m ready
even though I’m not
because I’ll never be ready
to look my parents in the eye
and tell them
all about those little tumors
that sprouted
like mushrooms inside me. 

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collection The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press) and the novel This is Sarah  (Bookfish Books). Her forthcoming books include How To Be An American (Six Gallery Press) and Better Luck Next Year (Low Ghost). She currently lives in the part of Brooklyn the tour buses don't come to. More information can be found