As a young woman, I steered away from any young man interested in medicine (and by steer away, I mean–a sharp & immediate U-Turn!)
But my son.
And so, I bow again to the legacy of his great-great-great grandfather (Community Health Officer), great-great grandparents (Doctor & Nurse), great grandfather (Surgeon), grandparents (Surgeon & Nurse), aunt (Doula), and second & first cousins (Nurses & Researchers & MD & Body workers), as I bow to him, with pride.
I wrote about the sluggishness that came in the aftermath of my son’s initiation… into the family… tragedy. But I didn’t explain that I was equally weighed down by the residue of a respiratory infection. Loitering congestion. In my ears and throat and lymph nodes.
I realize now that this led me to the provocative image that I chose for the piece–or that chose me. After the piece was published, the image continued to play with my consciousness and I found myself responding to a request on Facebook:
Ok, Saturday-night-stay-in’s – if you post a picture i will write a poem about it. Just say, “Hi dug- pic poem, please.”
Kelly Salasin’s Kill Strategy
a pic poem by dug Nap (For Kelly)
Anytime she’s not so sure kelly always goes for the jugular
I was stunned by the violence of this tiny piece. Had the artist read my article? Was he judging me? Why hadn’t he taken a scientific angle on this anatomic study–which could have been on the kitchen table, on any given morning, of my childhood, before my father left for the operating room.
When I went in to see the doctor last week, she put me on the table, and massaged down my throat, coaxing toxins from my lymph nodes.
I hadn’t realized that I was so filled.
Until my son read a single line from the email he received from the relative.
(He refused to let me hear more.)
He was writing back.
I grabbed his laptop. I pleaded:
“Please don’t respond again. She’ll only be more venomous. She can’t handle boundaries.”
My son was amused by my passion. He insisted that I didn’t need to worry. That he would be okay.
So I shared the spontaneous visions that were occurring in my mind’s eye on his behalf:
Tearing flesh with fanged teeth.
Ripping jugular veins as a three-headed beast.
Becoming a thousand insects, devouring her brain.
Faced with the mythical proportions of his mother’s protective instinct, he turned toward his father, and calmly challenged his aloofness:
“Where are your feelings,” he asked.
“I am so used to this,” my husband said.
“But she cc-ed you on the Goddamn email,” my son said. “She fucking invited you to watch as she kicked your son in the face.”
My husband remained silent.
I was quieted too by my inability to help.
We went to bed numb.
As I settled under the covers, it occurred to me that my vision could potentially injure the Other, so I mustered metta to send to the One who had attacked my child.
A week has since passed, but the meditation on toxicity continues to force itself into another day. This morning, a Mary Oliver line comes to mind:
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.