A Half-Van Gogh

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“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?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I’m getting half my left ear, the lobe lopped off.”

Silence.

“Why? Why would you do that?”

“It’s cancerous.”

“Oh dear.”

“You said you would love me even if I had half my face missing.”

“I know but …”

“Hello. Hello…”

Ring tone.

 

You Shouldn’t have Written That

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You shouldn’t have written that poem, he said.

What poem?

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.

But …

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?

 

The Lean

 

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I have a tendency to lean

Towards the left

When standing,

A condition acquired during

My teenage years.

 

Lately under treatment

I lean more towards

The centre

But wobble at times

Either             side

 

My children hope

The condition

Will right itself

Before too long

My Little Cloth Heart

indhhh

 

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.