I was leaving the hospital this afternoon when I saw the girl. Before I proceed I should say that the one glitch that occurred while I was in New York was that the teen broke his nose. Playing rugby. A ruck, he said. Mom, only a ruck. A ruck, I said. What the hell is a ruck? Still, he kept it from me, while I was in New York, that is. Each time I sent a text asking for an update, it all came back positive. Dogs fed, walked. House fine. No news. Love you. Teen x.
I think it might be nice to be Owen Wilson, that is, if you happened to be Owen Wilson. He looks like he has a broken nose to beat the band and can earn a great living from it but I like the teen with a nice even nose. The kind of nose he was born with. The kind of nose that defines him. So it was off to surgery. Fasting is hard for the teen. Nothing after 7 a.m. He slept until seven forty five. He left like a hungry ghost headed for the slaughter. I had a mammogram to look forward to. No, fasting is not required just a resolute belief that all will be well.
There is not much you can do when your teen goes in to have surgery on his nose. He insists on driving to school first so that he doesn’t miss out on any class, notes, exam tips. I try to tell him that’s not a good idea but no point in even trying to explain that. He calls me from the hospital to say he can’t find a parking spot. I want to say, I told you so but I bite my lip. I say instead that something will come up. It does. He sends me a text later to say he loves me. The teen, that is. The teen.
I mosey around the house. Do some ironing. Muss around with a poem that I think I finally have something that looks good on the page, fits it like a painting on a wall. It is good. I have to say that. But it should. It’s only taken me three months to make right. I think it has to be like sculpting. Etching away. Chipping at the words until they all add up. I am grateful for that alone. For the insight. For the joy. I can’t bake though. I am too distracted for baking. Measures seem out of reach, scales and flours and sugars are for better days. The dog looks at me as if she is disappointed in me. As if to say, how can you be so easily pulled into this jumbled state.
I go for the mammogram. The office is smooth. Dust free. Midnight blue couches lure me into an alternative state of mind, that is, until my name is called. Why am I here? Breasts. My breasts. The ones I fed my boys with. Possibly never a chance at winning a contest. Small. Wine glass breasts. Up into the clamp I go. Hold your arm here, turn your face left, then right. Spread your feet apart. Push in. Jesus. The nurse, kind little nurse, tells me I will know in three weeks time. I do not want to know is what I want to say. I nod. I smile. I dress. I am happy to be away.
And so I go to the main part of the hospital. To the fourth floor. The day ward. I think the fifth floor is not good. That’s where all the sad faces are going. No flowers.
I see my son emerge, wheeled in from nose surgery with a splint on his nose. He tells me he is starving. His first words, what’s for dinner? I think carefully. Mutter almost embarressed, stir fry. I want it to be casserole. Mashed potatoes. Something more.
I must leave him. Go home. Get H. Drive him back to the hospital to pick up the car and my son and drive him home. And I’m walking like a free thing. The sun is close to setting at only four fifteen p.m. It makes everything harsh. The buildings at the hospital are jagged and sharp. Cut into glorious shapes I never thought possible. Like stark poems for all the world. Glass shimmers like ice. Cold drives us on, all of us, the leavers of this place, walking along trying to find where we are going. And there is a little girl on the sidewalk and she is spinning around like I used to do when I was her age, daring myself to fall, always able to steady myself, always able to keep going until I was almost breathless with the effort, the excitement, the world turning into kaleidoscope rainbows in my eyes and nobody to tell me to stop. There is a granddad with the little girl and he is telling her to stop and she doesn’t. She just keeps on going. Her long blond hair around her shoulders and her tiny hands grasped into soft fists raised to her chest. Stop, says the granddad and stop again and she keeps on going. Giggling. Spinning. Defying time, the old man's command. I stand for a second or two to watch her. Laugh but then, all I see is the fear in the old man’s face, eyes wide. The fear that seeps in before we even know about it.
I drive home. The light on our road is different to the light at the hospital. Out here the light is soft, makes the stone walls turn into marshmallows as I pass by. I curse again the errant camera. I curse myself. I cannot remember when I was last spinning myself into another place. Turning around and around as if nothing mattered. Nothing at all.