ABOUT

Excerpted from a letter written some time ago, a young man’s remembrance of a young boy’s experience, “To a Man Whose Faces I Wear” or “A Lamentation: from Janus, a Raging Man”:

I would look out the callous pane from my cold, white-sheeted bed to see layers of stacked concrete and mirrored glass and imposing steel. I was always on the fourth or fifth floor.  Outside the window, there was a giant multilevel parking structure. Mom told me that she would always park on the open-aired, top deck so I could look out and see our car. I think that she was trying to calm her little boy’s fear with familiarity. Maybe she was trying to calm her own.  I don’t remember what kind of car we had. I do, however, recall spending many reticent, diaphanous hours peering out that window, my very own impersonal piece of mirrored glass. Jaded memory tells me that those days were mostly cloudy. Mostly gray. There was no grass. There were no trees. It was necessary that the concrete and glass and steel had been their demise… 

…From what I can remember, my bed was always the one closest to the window.  There were always two beds in the room.  A single television hung from the facing stark white wall, between the beds, close to the ceiling.  Both beds were adorned with bulky white plastic boxes connected to another cold white wall by bulky white electrical cords.  Those two bulky white boxes had two kinds of buttons:  white ones that allowed the person in either bed to change the channel or volume on the television and a red one used to call for help.  I remember being told – over and over – that if you were hurting, you called for help using the red button on the white plastic box.  In retrospect, with two little kids, two beds, two white boxes and one television, you would think that there would be continuous conflict.  There never was.  Children understand that television choices carry little importance in buildings constructed of stacked concrete, with large parking structures designed deliberately for tense mothers and bulky white plastic boxes guarding dangerous red buttons from which to call for help…

…Dr. Burns, were you ever aware that I never used the red button on my bulky white plastic box? I never did. I knew better. I knew that if I pressed the red button on that box then the mean nurse in the crisp, fresh white pajamas would come in with a needle. Yes, my face hurt a lot where you placed your hundreds of tiny stitches, but I would always rather have your pain than her needle. I was always in so much pain. I lied about it to my mom. I lied about it to you. I lied because I didn’t want to see the white-clothed needle-lady…

That was a long, long time ago.

Now, I live hundreds of miles away in the same big city. Now, as I look up from a worn paper copy of this old letter – past a multitude of books filled with complex chemistries and aberrant anatomies and pathological physiologies – to gaze out a kindly window, I see layers of stacked concrete and mirrored glass and imposing steel.  I see a single car parked atop a giant multilevel parking structure.  There is a silken smear of warm green grass.  There are the supple shimmers of a few magnificent trees.  Yesterday it was raining for years.  Today, the shining sun rages in a sea of blue.  Beautifully, its crisp white light rages – rages undying – in a sea of soft distinguished blue.  Dr. Burns, may you rest in peace.

Now, I am the surgeon. Now, as recently discovered, I am the one fighting cancer. My name is Anthony. This is my project, an awakened search for colorful rage…

AWB