her head is bald
&she’s in her pajamas
wind howls as i lock my bike
in front the door

we drink coffee where the woods are dark//
strETCHED lungs tentacling wide into a forest
we can’t see

in spite the mossy patches on our knees,
she tells me that the tumor in her breast has shrunk
to half its size
“so cool” i smile “&honestly, you’re looking great”

at oNe point in life i think
everyone should razor-blade their head,
abandon all the gel and spray
thiCK curlers, piNs and grips
that hold us fiXEd to—
perm wave_ed// perox-ided
blond or red, yet—
stranGEly motionless

“would you go out on the street with me like that?” she asks
“people would stare,
you know that– out of norm
&fEAR, deNIAL of our own
unbattled weaknesses

but yeah// i proudly would, i—“

outside in the highlands is a seed,
bumped by a storm to this&that side,

&the steel-womb gutters cannot hold
us, eyes // fixed—
“uuuhh, i thought we’re moving”
“oh, we do”
the cake is sweet
“chocolate & nuts”
“you mom baked it?– it’s excellent”

on the horizon, a small boat, braving the stream
&on the steering wheel
a bald man with a cup of tea
curls a smile//both wild & rugged
upon his lips

smiles… things are looking good for my friend… so def. much reason to be thankful…
from tuesday on i’ll be away for a week on a road trip through scotland with my husband… getting lost in the highlands and such… smiles… see you then…


40 responses to “birgit//

  1. Birgit is on my “prayer cloud”–daily. I should send you a link to a villanelle I wrote when going through chemo with a friend…not the best poetry but…

    The detail with the bald man made this especially heart-warming.

  2. I look at those women who are obviously under cancer treatment (with lack of hair) and think how brave they are to be out in public & wonder if I, myself, would be so brave. I think in a way we are all somewhat vain, but I am sure if a person goes through something like your friend went through one realizes the foolishness of vanity & looks fear in the eye straight on & does what one wants to do just in case one’s time is short and this is the only opportunity. Enjoy the highlands, Claudia. I’ve been there & enjoyed!

  3. I am so glad about your friend, Claudia! And I hope you and your husband do enjoy Scotland. I worked in two schools near Stirling before starting teaching in France and loved the experience. If you can, go and visit the Burrell Collection near Glasgow. It is very eclectic and you should both enjoy it.

  4. Good to hear about your friend ~ Maybe we should experience not having hair so we are not too concerned about our looks (yet strangely motionless) ~

    And enjoy the trip to Scotland with hubby ~ Have a great week ~

  5. I’m so happy for your friend. Bet she’s happy to live regardless of hair, or how she looks. She knows what matters. Nice that you wrote about her. Hope you and hubby have a wonderful time. A honeymoon can happen at any time in a marriage. Have fun!

  6. I love how those we love loom too large to contain whether secretly in the forest, at a kitchen table and in town. I believe we can do anything with true friends My friend Jenn wore a hat to walk in the street but took it off to talk and drink coffee and often just forgot to put it on again. How odd that she has hair again.

  7. So good to hear the treatment is working.. a bald head can mean so much.. for a woman it’s cancer treatment.. for a man it’s hiding he’s loosing his hair.. but being bold signals strength I think.Drinking coffee where the woods are dark.. that’s really my favorite sentence in this.. your stories are always so intriguing Claudia.

  8. Everybody know a “Birgit” … mine is my best friend and soul mate Sue … instead of shaving my head, I had her name tattooed on my upper left arm …

  9. One or two times my own wife achieved a wondrous and beautiful smoothness untarnished by hair after such treatment. She was then my mermaid such a treasure to have and to hold.

  10. As long as there is life, there is hope! I’m glad there is improvement. Our baker’s wife was not around for a few months last year then returned to work much thinner wearing a wig. I love how you show that despite her battle she thinks of the comfort of others.
    Enjoy Scotland!

  11. Claudia ~ sending you big Ozark hugs! Enjoy your wonderful time with your husband & roaming free in Scotland! ~joanie

  12. This line is purely poignant: “deNIAL of our own
    unbattled weaknesses” and says so much about the complex emotions we face when we are supporting a loved one.

  13. Oh…so glad your friend is improving. I really like the part that at some point each of us should razor-blade our head, abandoning all the “stuff”…seems like a metaphor for freedom there…and your close is excellent!

  14. The razor blade is an interesting idea…I can see it helping to desensitize people so they may not look with that look. I’m glad to hear things are going well for your friend.

  15. love the zoom out there in the end to the man on the boat…
    its hard…cancer…what the treatments do to us…i am glad that you would roudly go out with her…it takes bravery on her part as well…but also that she is facing it….not ready to give up on life….we look away in our denial…as if acknowledging it we could become one with it…

    travel light, my friend.

  16. I read this the other day and thought I had written a comment…think I fell asleep 😉 I have little first hand knowledge of cancer, mostly 2nd hand. But I do know of some who lost their battles. it’s sweet how your write about Birgit – I esp. love this:

    “outside in the highlands is a seed,
    bumped by a storm to this&that side,”

  17. Birgit is fortunate to have you come by…and you fortunate to have her–we each teach the other. Always.

    OH! A trip–NOT business?–with your man! Scotland? COOL! Also cool in degree.
    Safe and FUN trip, and I also am remembering Birgit in my prayer package…

    Your sketch of me (HA! HA!) the violinist, has received rave reviews–grin! I did get “by Claudia” inserted into the upper right corner of photo. Thank you SO much!

  18. I’m so happy for you and your friend. Hope that she continues to improve and heal. A great write here, we do need to become more open, accepting, loving.