The Light of Dawn In The Mirror of Dusk
21 April 2012
It‟s been a full day. I‟ve worked on my Press‟ project, I‟ve made some birthday cards for my eighty-six year old aunt who “just can‟t see spending $25 on drugstore greeting cards;” so I offer to make the ten or so cards she needs for various daughters, the last son left, cousins, nieces, nephews…She had five children of her own, (twins!), so she has rich and vital progeny to acknowledge the celebration of. I tell her, “I just lie about in bed most everyday, so I might as well make myself useful as the Good Book says.” OK, I lied. I didn‟t mention the Press work to her or my ankle. Her sister, my mother has a detached retina and was operated on this afternoon, so I figure she has enough worries. They are ten years apart and different as night and day, one blonde, one dark as Elizabeth Taylor once upon a time, and now both silver as the moon; but her kids and us kids grew up camping, fishing, water-skiing, (not me!), making things in their ceramics studio and selling them at the Renaissance Faire; block parties for the Fourth of July because Uncle Richard, her husband, was the fire chief and hated that holiday so much, he always insisted on doing it himself, so it was done safely. Getting ready for bed, I absent-mindedly pass a long gold-framed mirror and see my strange misshapen body. On one side of my chest there is no breast, just a thin nine inch line flowing into my naked armpit. I started growing hair under my arms at eleven and hated shaving, so I usually had longer hair than my boyfriends. On the left side, is my beautiful little breast, a spray of belladonna tattooed above it and above that is a bump of skin rising out of my chest where my pacemaker keeps me alive. My cardiologist is so good that each time he changes my pacemaker because the battery has worn out, he just unzips the same set of stitches and slips out the old tired one and slides in a new tiny computer set to seventy-two beats a minute… He‟s not sloppy, he never misses. He just slides the scalpel under the scar tissue and unzips me, so to speak. Now my chest is equal in its infirmities. I plan to get a tattoo on the nine-inch scar side as soon as it has properly healed. Most likely my youngest son will design a stencil (hello Banksy!) of a magpie with some Hebrew from the Sermon on the Mount. The only color will be a sunflower- yellow on the bird‟s beak and legs. There is a rare breed of „pies in a valley in Central California where we love to stop on our way to El Lay and feed the stately bird. It even has a different call than the magpies in every other part of the world. The world‟s birds screech “mag mag mag” and my birds whistle out, “Reet, reet reet!” I‟m meandering. The main story is about standing in front of the mirror naked and looking at what once was so God-given and beautiful I thought. Now so man-made. My hair, no longer to my bottom, is a scruffy mop these days that I just may for fun before I turn sixty which I still have a few years to go, color it scarlet and let it go scarecrow wild for just a year or two. It‟s ironic that I lost hair. I didn‟t have chemo or radiation, but I have no fore arm hair, leg hair, my eyebrows are miniscule, my head hair is as described and I still have to use birth control or I can get knocked up. Of which I am deathly afraid, because my cardiac medication says, “Don‟t Get Pregnant”, my morphine says the same, my anxiety tabs are stern about it. I don‟t want a child I can‟t take care of. Every child deserves to be taken care of with a mother‟s strong arms, carried from here to there and I no longer have that strength. Oh, after two delicious feisty sons, I would love a little girl, but my eggs are old, I‟m too old, I suspect to get up to nurse many times in the night, change and wash diapers. I don‟t think I would survive labor. I look at my body and I can only say I am so happy to be alive and that ought to be enough. And it is; but it‟s a lovely little icing on the cake, to think, to imagine…My goodness: fifty-six, a month from fifty-seven and I can still get pregnant. Ha ha ha. O! the joy of the fecund natural world. I slowly let slide a cotton slip over my head and disappear the scars of the world. I remember the photographs Dan took before and after the surgery and accept that they are enough, especially with all the spring flowers in the garden. My body is a mirror of my soul. I have been battered, and I have been caressed. The scars on my skin are poems that will remind me of the beauty, of the grief; and the paint on the back of the glass that makes a hard see-through piece of light turn into a silver device where I am reflected back at myself. And I can make music; I can make glass sing all the songs I learned from babyhood when I rub my wet finger around the rim of a crystal glass and hear that high and low singing : mermaids on the ocean‟s rocks, sirens in the sea as the sun rises, disappearing the dark night; disappearing those scars that saved my life. I just have to get used to them and I will learn, because I‟m a smart woman. I will come to see my scars as jewelry, beautiful markings that I would never want to take off. O! what a careless woman I shall become sleeping in my rubies until the scars fade from bright red to a soft diamond white. Like my tattoos, my scars will become art that can never be stolen, and will always remind me that God, the Great Physician, taught humans how to heal each other and themselves. I am healing myself as I sleep; as I eat fruit, juice dripping down my face; as I lift my arm saluting the sun, teaching the skin how to return to feeling again from its present state of numbness. One day I will run with the neighborhood dogs and my body won‟t hurt.
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