Close Shave

Prose poem on the surgical removal of a facial lesion.

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Public Domain

Not everything that gets under your skin is nasty. Some growths are as benign as beaming grandparents, or a priest’s blessing. This piece of tissue that came out of my face, leaving a cauterised hole in the margin of cheek and nostril, was only removed for the avoidance of doubt. The hole is a healthy hole. It loves vaseline. It will heal from the bottom up by what the doctors call ‘secondary intention’. Its first wish was to remain patent, but then it changed its mind. In place of uncertainty, there will be a small spindle-shaped scar left by the curette; which could have been caused by a peck from a bad-tempered parrot or jealous lover. It will be pink and permanent, but there will be no existential angst; no corrosive doubt. In three weeks the histology report will arrive, describing a nucleus that’s no longer there, like light from a burnt out star.

Stephen Wilson is a psychiatrist turned critic and writer, who has lived and worked in Oxford, UK, for many years.

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