cover image Now I Lay Me Down to Fight: A Poet Writes Her Way Through Cancer

Now I Lay Me Down to Fight: A Poet Writes Her Way Through Cancer

Katy Bowser Hutson. IVP, $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-5140-0799-0

Hutson (coauthor of Little Prayers for Ordinary Days) weaves a luminous and lyrical mix of poetry and prose documenting her fight with breast cancer. From her diagnosis five years ago, through several rounds of chemotherapy, skin-blistering radiation, and a double mastectomy and oopherectomy, Hutson saw cancer treatment as a war waged within the “battlefield” of her body. But it was also an experience in which faith was inextricably bound: “God hovers near to the broken-hearted, to the broken-bodied,” she writes about what she observed in radiation clinics and hospital hallways. While readers will be moved by the author’s strength (“Now I lay me down to fight/ Rest in God with all his might,” she urges herself in “Sleep as War”), Hutson’s most poignant poems capture small, achingly human moments, as in “Mastectomy Eve” where she contemplates that “6–10 people whom I’ve never met will see my naked body” during surgery and wonders, “What can they know about me when I’m prone and inert?... I brought hand-knit socks so they could see I am loved.” While the battle metaphors sometimes become heavy-handed, they’re redeemed by Hutson’s ability to balance raw emotion with quiet observational wisdom (“I’m tired, but I am alive... when I forget, my body reminds me”). This gemlike offering captures illness in all its pain and complexity. (Nov.)