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Last year on June 24th, Fall 2011 Dialogue Alum Claudia Nobauer had surgery to remove a benign tumor in her brain. She wrote this poem about her experience and she wanted to share it.
I am not a poet,
but in this moment it seems safer to encase my heart in a kaleidoscope of words,
because if I paint a pretty picture it will distract you,
from the looming prophecy
of medical incision.
We, you and I, will be too distracted by the picture to pick out the pieces
that are broken.
I have it on good authority,
(an MRI and a VERY kind doctor)
that a golf ball does not in fact fit inside your head.
Did you know that almonds have anti-tumour properties?
I’m calling bull shit on that one.
I’ve been eating almonds by the handful since before winter was cold enough to freeze the pipes in the kitchen.
The moment I knew the picture was broken
was the moment my defenses no longer worked.
A very kind doctor with really nice teeth and a view that only a lot of money can buy
looked at me,
I deflect his words at every chance but he is used to my game.
But I’m so charming, surely I can derail him.
I find my world is suddenly upside down in a Parnassus dream.
They are shaking me,
everything I have is falling out on the floor.
Everyone can see it,
I try to reach
the harder I try the more I loose.
Something’s got hold of my feet
and all I can see are pieces of my dignity falling across the floor,
all in a mess on the floor.
So I paint the picture.
Sitting on the bus I play a game,
who is broken and how?
The picture just seems so normal,
are we all so common?
Can they tell?
Have my defenses come down?
Please tell me they can’t see me.
I don’t want anyone to see me.
So I pull my hood up
paint the face that you want to see.
When really all I want is for someone to hold me.
Don’t tell me about your needs,
I can barely handle my own
all I want is to be held
and I can’t find the strength reach out to find you.
Have you ever opened a coconut?
But I watched on the sidewalks of America
as the kind Latino man with laugh lines that swallowed his entire face
the skull open with a machete.
Add an umbrella
and I drank its juice and ate its flesh.
1 in 10 000
It’s pretty common.
And I was so innocent to the moment
my life was about to change,
standing there with two suddenly very close friends.
as I hung up the phone.
Bug eyed they stared at me
All it takes is a phone call.
And the person that you thought you were
Well, she is no longer there.
Then you did hold me,
all of you,
lopsided face and all,
arms and legs wrapped in a space where spirit meets bone.
For a brief moment,
the colours blended together.
I could almost see the picture again.
Red, blue, green,
Rough edges smooth again.
They sewed up my head
but you sewed up my heart,
callused though she was.
The kaleidoscope has spun,
and the picture’s a little different from this side.
Like the sent of a lover that’s faded,
I’ve almost forgotten what the old picture looked like.