My Birth

My mother’s father, Samuel Joseph Cawley, died three days before I was born and was buried in a paupers grave in Van Nys, California, alone and still drunk so the embalmer had it easy. My mother went into labor etherized and alone, and, hearing “ it’s a girl”, sighed into her peignoir and turned her back on it all: the dead first boy, the second, another boy, then two girls and then me. A brood mare. She struck a match for her L&M and flicked the ashes in the nightstand drawer it’s white metal smooth and cold. Loyal to her. She slammed it shut when she heard my grandfather’s voice in the hallway. The most important post birth attendant. Bearer of the name and the cash envelope labeled “Olive”. He always wanted her to be free of his son.Telling my father to be kind to her, grandfather gave her money. He said it was so she could leave but really it was so she would stay.
Lucinda Watson

Water Again

When I first tasted your skin

It was covered in water.

Remember water?

It was hard to describe but it was free.

Lakes are craters even now.

A child asks who pulled the drain plug as you drive by.

There is deep sadness in the retreating water, a reluctant

path of tears sinking into the dust,

searching for an oasis to nourish, water looks down

and sees it’s vanishing.

Cries out to the lone red bird

perched on a burnt tree,

cries out to the cactus who needs no one, cries out to

you and me who have forgotten water already.

Wedding Photo

The wedding photo

Our wedding photo seemed perfectly natural. I lay there on a white bird with a cherub playing a violin and you lay on top of me. I had a convenient fan in case things got too warm. Another cherub in a tree was hanging upside down with the candelabraperfectly balanced like prongs on a pitchfork.

There were farm animals and you wore a purple suit and I thought as many do what a wonderful fantasy. It was almost as if we were taking a small rest leaning against the curved plump soft white bird. I could feel her heart fluttering in her bird chest. Soon my heart was mimicking her rhythm. It never occurred to me that we were actually going to have a marriage after we had taken the photo. I couldn’t think that far ahead. I preferred to live in a soft fantasy where the idea of cooking meals and having children never came up. I didn’t really like the feel of your right hand on my hip but the photographer had suggested that it be there. A man had never touched me before so it wasn’t unusual to have that feeling. I wanted to keep the cow but I realize that would be difficult in a third-floor apartment. You said to me that one day we would have a castle. The only good thing about a castle to me would’ve been the moat. I remember distinctly that dissembling all the props took a long time and you refused to get out of that purple suit. I had a nice drink of some decent red wine and took a walk forgetting to come back.

 “The Red Kerchief “Claud Monet

I wanted him to notice me.

It wasn’t that difficult to see what I wanted.

In winter he stayed inside all the time.

Painting. He was.

All the time.

Winter, always a danger to everyone, young and old.

No freedom in winter.

Too much freedom for him.

I wandered by that day wearing red,

A reminding flag of conscience,

I’m waving a shawl of belonging,

frayed and thin. Notice me.

Colonoscopy Time

I am writing because I wanted to express my concern about the medical centers across the country that perform common procedures like colonoscopies on a daily basis. While I understand that Covid has changed a lot about how one interacts with patients, I was very disappointed to be treated in the way I was prior to my colonoscopy this week.

Three years ago when I had a colonoscopy at this Center things were quite different. It was the human touch and connection that made me feel safe and secure having the procedure done. By that I mean the anesthesiologist, who was an older man, took the time to talk to me right before he put me to sleep by  introducing himself a second time  and making a small joke. This made me feel relaxed and safe and as if he cared about me.

Yesterday the anesthesiologist did come in and introduce herself to me in the waiting area however immediately prior to being put to sleep I was wheeled into the procedure room where no one spoke to me. My doctor didn’t speak to me, and the anesthesiologist did not speak to me. Frankly, I was looking for the anesthesiologist and I’m not even sure that she was there. Perhaps it is the practice now for the head anesthesiologist to meet the patient, take down information, and then pass this down this information to another anesthesiologist who will actually do the job. I hope not!

The feeling I had was that I was on an assembly line and merely a body on a gurney. It would have made a difference, for example, if someone had asked me how I was doing, patted my hand, and basically reassured me right before I went to sleep. Instead, when I said that the needle in my hand was hurting somebody seem to adjust it, but they didn’t say one word. I guess they felt like it didn’t matter because I would be asleep in two minutes which was true. However, perhaps they do not realize that those moments before being put to sleep are incredibly important ones and make a patient feel safe or unsafe. I felt unsafe and so that is my memory of the procedure and the treatment I received.

I understand the reasoning behind the lack of personal connection because of the fear of Covid but I think it is not right that patients don’t receive compassionate care. It’s very important for doctors not to forget that though they do 20 of these procedures a day or more, each  patient is an individual deserving of compassionate attention and reassurance.

The leader sets the tone in any business. Therefore, I have taken the time to write this letter in the hopes that doctors and others who are in this position will change their style in terms of patient interaction. All it takes is a pat on the hand and a gentle statement saying that everything will be all right.  Every employee who interacts with a patient should have the same compassionate approach and should take the time to make sure they are feeling comfortable. This happened at times during my procedure, but the most important time is right before one is put to sleep when anxiety is at its highest level.

Thank you for reading this and I hope that some changes are made because I think it will make a big difference in how comfortable people feel having colonoscopies performed.

Academy Awards

This year I find the Academy awards to be so moving that I am constantly in tears. As a matter of fact, I can’t believe I have the capacity to cry for so many hours. There’s so many things that people have said that have been so hopeful to me that I can’t believe and feel like there may be a good tomorrow. Thank God. God bless all of them.

Person in a lake

There’s a moment when a child stops

playing just for her as there is “Another” watching. The play become something other than sole imaginary play and is now “observed” play. The child comes out of her unconscious and is now conscious of her presence in the world No one really remembers this moment except me, that is. I was so lost in my play at age 4 that noticing I was being observed was an electric jolt. An intruder. As if someone could see into my mind and know what I was thinking. I was no longer playing for the sake of playing but now I played to an audience even if there was no one there. There is a psychological term for this. I forgot that term. I do know that I am almost integrated now. If I were a photograph I would be just one outline and not a series of paper dolls slightly overlapping one over the other. All those different characters I played. All the people I thought I had to be. Pleasing so many and always worried I had failed some which I’m sure I did. I became really exhausted from all of this pleasing. It is so much easier not to even notice.