He’s been after me For years now. Once when I was a boy Sliding down the riverbank He got one hand around my ankle. While muddy water lapped and surged I scrambled along a gnarled root And hauled myself to the upper bank, Trembling with terror. “Just a trial balloon,” he said cheerfully, Lighting a cigar. So many other times, mountain climbing And ready to take the wrong step Or lazing in the milky foam of Pacific Ocean surf Or driving fast at four A.M. ready to fall asleep And smash against some anonymous Freeway wall. And then the tests he puts you through: The scans and probes and liquids measured For cancer’s black sand, for the leaking Glue of inflammation; the number of times He taps you for another round Of dodge ball, firing one disease after another Past your head as you dance And jump, still alive.