Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gristle

In case you're wondering what kind of crazy has gotten into my writing, I'm taking a workshop from Julia Connor, artist and, from 2005 to 2009, the City of Sacramento's poet laureate. We're working in the prose poem form right now. This piece is in response to one of Julia's writing prompts.

Actually, it’s only a three-inch deformity, small by any measure. Hardly noticeable, really, they said. And, who’d dare notice? The rude, the vain, the venial, the very young?

There isn’t time or energy for those like me who study imperfections. I’m the child who points out in the grocery store checkout clatter: “Mommy, that man doesn’t have a leg!” Then the shushing, the downcast eyes. “Paper or plastic?”

It’s only a three-inch deformity, after all, a slice off the nose, a whittling away of rotten sinew. OK, so. The angry little pimple grew to a curly edged pore that split into a seeping gash that gnawed through the cartilage of my left nostril. Cancer, carcinoma, corrective surgery, collateral damage. When they were done, the button nose with dainty up-turn, the sun-dappled freckles across the cheeks, the naughty girl transformed.

Now skin grafts, pulled from elsewhere on the face, cover the nickel-sized crater. Without gristle, the nostril’s graceful shape will not hold. They made me look so I would know myself, pressed me close against my own altered face. But, they said, under the bright, penetrating surgical lamp, actually, it’s only a three-inch deformity, barely noticeable – my mundane horror calculated this change from an unknown distance.

“Look, Mommy!”

Image from: www.tattoovirtual.com