A craniotomy survivor and poet, Judith Barrington, wrote a meaningful poem about the ‘light’ that entered her with brain surgery. I heard it on NPR and they posted it on their website. When she was recovering, she spent time really looking out the window, really seeing nature in a way that distracted and busy people can’t do. I remember the first week after craniotomy, as time slowed down, being able to focus on one small thing, and this brought my memory of that. The neurosurgeons have a saying “you ain’t never the same when the air hits your brain”, but this poem brought me to the conclusion that this is not always a bad thing:
The wound is the place where the light enters you
A small man with curly hair and a French accent
sliced my skull on the right side, vertically, opened
a flap by which the irritating blood could leave my brain
and then closed it up again with screws and a line of staples
that I still have—forty two of them in a plastic bag.
Did the light enter me there?
Is my head full of light now
or has it spread all through my body,
white light filling me
all the way to the tips of my fingers and toes.
And what exactly is this new light that slipped in
through the open flap while the surgeon’s delicate fingers
held his instruments poised, pressed bone and skin into place
and closed up until inside that sudden opening
everything grew dark again?
The light of seeing how snow
and starched blue sky waited outside
my window until I really saw them;
behind the trees, darkness
forever touched by the kindness of light;
and the shine of time passing at the speed
it likes to pass, none of it wasted—
even when I couldn’t find the words.