NEUROPATHY | Xanthia Tucker


I only want to hear it if it’s good

news, she said once between denying

fever, chills, headache, changes

in vision, chest pain, shortness

of breath. A small woman

with a cancer from her last cancer

treatment, she left her farm for this

hospital, for good and the

untimed unknown rest

of it. I wake her morning after

morning, noting hair on her

pillow and ataxia, improving. How

are your fingers? They’re fine, the line

goes to here, she says, I can move this but not

that. Stable’s a kind of good I give her

nothing new. I

love you, she

says when I say

goodbye and asks to have

tea at some unnamed

time between cycles, when

it’s over. I’m not sure

of the rules but rebuff is

unpardonable. We’ll have you

over, she says, you’ll be the best

oncologista. She never called and I won’t

look her up, my line of numbness still

in my chest and the rest can’t

lift the unknown rest

of this memory.

Xanthia Tucker is a third-year medical student at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Before deciding to become a doctor, she studied comparative literature, theater, and creative writing at Harvard College. She dreams of a humanistic and artistic career in medicine, inspired by her childhood idol, William Carlos Williams, and her grandmother, a painter. She also loves to sing, cook, backpack, and take naps with her cat, Elio.