Tomorrow I am going to have my first ever mole removed. It’s just a being on the safe side thing, and I get to chat with my doctor, who is really cool and likes bikes, so that is fine. But the mole is a dark black one just off the center of my spine, next to a long white scar I got from ducking not low enough under a barb wire fence when I was mad at my mom. She didn’t do anything; I was a teenager. I remember I was charging around these pine woods with a bloody back, totally pissed off, when it started raining, and pine trees, unlike our friendly Western Washington forests, don’t do squat to shelter you against rain. So I was soaked and exhilarated and bleeding, and tromping around by myself until I wasn’t angry anymore. The cut scarred up, and I like it. It is in fact, one of my many favorite scars. The mole makes a sort of constellation with it that seems like one of the particularities of my specific body.
But as of tomorrow, there won’t be a mole there, and that has made me nostalgic. No one else who loves me will love that mole. It’s a welling-up poignancy that must be passed through.
However, my moles have been well-loved. Even preserved (briefly) in literature. The story: when I was a barista, there was an elderly man who was a regular and a prolific poet. He had been to Auschwitz on vacation a few years before, and despite not being Jewish, had been moved to write poems about it — over one thousand, he told me. He wrote a poem a day. “Do you write about other things too?” I asked him, as I made him his normal Americano in his mug with the space needle inside it. I filled it, per instructions, just to the top of the space needle, leaving a good inch and a half for him to fill with cream.
“Oh, I can write about anything,” he proclaimed. “I could even write about the moles on your chest!” He nodded at the triangle of moles in the scoop of my shirt, moles I happened to be fond of. Half an hour later, he handed me a piece of notebook paper, on which he had written, sure enough, a poem about my moles. I lost the poem later that day — it fell out of my pocket, probably for the better — but I remember the gist of it. It begins with me, “lying supine on my bed.” Then I get up and look in the mirror and feel self-conscious about my moles. Then I go back to bed in a fit of self-conscious despair. The poem ends with the man saying that instead of being something to be shy about, the moles are “one more reason he is glad he’s not blind.”
So. Perhaps a little creepy. But since he was a regular who answered the question “what would you like?” not with “tickets for you and me to Maui,” like another guy did, but with very specific instructions on how to make his daily Americano (top of the space needle! warm up the cup in the microwave first!) and because he was generally just kooky and amiable, I decided it was mostly sweet. Anyway, it is fun to have poetic inspiration in your skin.