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Breath & Shadow

Winter 2010 - Vol. 7, Issue 1

"Again", "Explanations", and "Responses"

written by

Kathleen Grieger



Bandages off, I’m allowed

to sit up. I turn one way, seeing no

difference. Inspecting the other,

I gaze into the mirror

Right side curving softly,

curls cover my shoulder

Left side, shaved and stapled

New scar seeming sharp

I envy the Barbie, from when I

was young. Push a button,

to bring out her shiny blond hair

Pull to lengthen, new longing for me

A knock on my door, I hear “Razor,

you ready?“ As he hums with the motor,

I watch him move. Simply slipping,

hair slides off my shoulder

He glides his hand soothingly over

the surface. “There now, you see,

it feels really good. Softly smooth

as a baby’s behind”

My relation to a behind

puts a break in my mood.

He asserts, “You look lovely”

and leaves with a smile

Newly calm, also smiling, I stare

and then snicker. Shaving me

sheared away any fear. I have

been bald before. I know I’ll be fine





Sam, learning I would be bald

decides it might be cool

I shave his head, deciding

it is his way of dealing with me

I am surprised

when an angry clerk in Kohls

Says her son had cancer,

and was bald

It is wrong of me, to allow my son

to mock the sick

It surprises me that she is rude,


She says it was thirty years ago,

and my son is wrong

to remind her of bad times

Sam does not understand


As we go out to dinner the next week,

an older couple watch Sam

The husband tells his wife

not to be so rude, to stare

She says it is cancer, he is after all, bald

This again, surprises me

I finally tire of the comments to Sam,

and I tell them I am going in for brain surgery,

and will be bald

And my son did not want me to feel bad, or alone

Rude perhaps, but necessary for me

On my way past again,

the woman tells me, she knows a friend,

who had a friend, who had a sister,

who had a friend who had brain surgery,

so she knows just what Sam is feeling


Later, when I am bald, with a square

of staples running around my ear

I hear no comments, I get no response

It seems too real for people to see

And they politely look the other way



"Responses" has been previously published in Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine.




When the headache


so does his explanation

I wish the headaches

would change

as does his mind

I have been told

by the neurologist

that what I am feeling,

is my surgery


The weather

is changing




Cover it with ice

Take medication

Get a massage

(Never did figure

out how that one

would help)

I am told

"You are never

the same

once the air

hits your brain"

This seems to be

his strongest


Kathleen has been published in many books, including Windy Hill Review, The Healing Muse, and Caduceus. She started writing once again to record and respond through brain surgeries. She has culled it down to book form, showing actions and reactions both.

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