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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 3, September 2015

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Bill Gottlieb
Cobb, California, USA


Skulls

An exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences

The cancer surgeon—the woman who entered the examining room exclaiming, “You’re cured!” when the disclosing scan did not detect a dot of disease, and who a year later lopped your left breast off—said you had a “beautiful head shape,” and so you did: after chemo harried your do, and a hairdresser buzzed the haggard strands, you looked adventive as a goddess, your domical, noble bulb lighting the privacy of our love.

Last year, after the third recurrence, shopping in a supermarket in October a few months before you died—out and about you wore a scarf so strangers wouldn’t stare at your mortality—we were happily stupified—Hey, look at this!—by a honking display of cute caps in natural fabrics. You wouldn’t try them on in the store, of course—you didn’t want your pate pitied or to repulse or to titillate like reality TV—A girl strips her disease in Aisle 3!—but you picked out four or five you liked, figuring I’d buy you one or two. Then I leant in by your nape and pinna, whispering I would buy them all. And below the crown of a five nine body eroded to about 95 pounds, you smiled at me, your bone structure like that of a fragile, able being who had landed by my side from her lovely planet.

I never saw your skull but scraps of skeleton spiked the compacted ash that I scattered like seeds of grief in the sea.

sea otter
on the skull the symbol
of Venus
love’s seduction
is to the bone

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