“I am getting a half -Van Gogh,” I say over the phone.
“A half -Van Gogh? What is that?”
“You know how Van Gogh lopped off his left ear after a fit of madness, or so it’s claimed?”
“Well, I’m getting half my left ear, the lobe lopped off.”
“Why? Why would you do that?”
“You said you would love me even if I had half my face missing.”
“I know but …”
You shouldn’t have written that poem, he said.
That short one about brain tumors.
But I wrote it before her daughter …. I protested.
Doesn’t matter. She needn’t be reminded of it.
I can’t take it back. It’s out there now.
You didn’t have to give her the book the poem was in. Each time she reads it she’ll be reminded.
You could have pulled it, he said. It didn’t have to be there.
He was right. It didn’t. But it was a good poem. My editor said it had to go in. Anyway it wasn’t about Jess. It was written about a tumor I had seen in Scientific American, how beautiful it was, how like the wings of a butterfly unfurling into the hemispheres of the brain.
Are there subjects we should not write about?
I have a tendency to lean
Towards the left
A condition acquired during
My teenage years.
Lately under treatment
I lean more towards
But wobble at times
My children hope
Will right itself
Before too long
I’ve had it for a fortnight.
I use it on and off.
I clutch it to my real heart
when I splutter, or cough.
It helps absorb vibrations
shocks that might cause harm.
It keeps my body steady
and my spirit calm.
It is soft and cuddly
Pale red and bare.
Like Linus and his blanket
I take it everywhere.