Small signs and scars

His concern was not comforting
unwrinkling waves under numb glass so that
I cried like someone on the other side.
He dropped the reflecting disc on my knee
unprofessionally, taken aback; but not
everything means anything.

The next doctor examined my eye
as biological flesh with geographical lines,
each subterranean eruption amid the shifting plates of the world
now under the microscope each scar and
abnormality an insignia recording a lifetime
of small disasters.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Small signs and scars”?

The poem, “Small signs and scars,” was inspired after I suffered a retinal tear at 26 years old.

It was a scary event, but by the time I saw the ophthalmologist the tear had sealed itself and I no longer needed treatment. Since then, however, there has been was some impairment to my vision due to the scar.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Small signs and scars”?

I tried to use a minimalist and impressionist technique of employing select details to evoke both a sense of the dramatic situation and of the speaker’s underlying despair.

This poem “Small signs and scars” originally appeared in Auto/biography. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 172 (Spring 2002): 144-144.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.