Issue 1: 2014
The Lumen, Issue 1, 2014. All content ÂŠ the authors.
Published by the editors Edinburgh, 2014
all enquiries to lit.mag @ ed.ac.uk
Front cover: Emily McDougall. To Prey, 2013, Pencil and pastel on paper, 55 x 86 cm. Back cover: Emily McDougall. Oh Deer, 2013. Pencil and pastel on paper, 86 x 55 cm. See p54 for more details.
Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Lumen! It’s been a long time coming to you. Along a road which has been in its turns protracted, exhilarating, and difficult, at times we faltered; occasionally it seemed as though we might never make it to the finish. Watching this journal emerge from the clamorous minutiae of dissolving university departments, tangled schedules - the numerous teething problems of a journal’s first issue - has been, in many ways, like emerging slowly after a long illness into daylight. And here it is, at last, The Lumen in your own two hands, Scotland’s only literary magazine dedicated to the unique and special field of medicine and illness. So what are we doing here? We wanted a bridge between the quick gleam of a scalpel and the deft weight of a well-placed word. Something for the intersections where medicine meets the internal landscape; the human spaces. And perhaps something to make those spaces bigger, and more welcoming. So much of what we experience in illness, death, and caring for our sick can be lost in the clean, spare hallways of hospitals, or the foreign language of medical terminology. Within the pages of The Lumen we wanted to create a place for the voices of patients, carers, healthcare professionals and students alike. Thank you to the vast wealth of submissions from all over the world and from first-time to professional writers and artists: hearing the diversity and variety of your stories and expressions was a joy. Thank you to the sadly now former Edinburgh University Medical Humanities Research Network for its support, to Dr. Claire McKechnie for putting us right, to Dr. Iain McClure for his unwavering faith in us. And, most of all, thank you to our contributors for your patience and your kindness while The Lumen arranged and assembled itself, and straightened its tie to look presentable, guided by the steady hand of our graphic designer, Molly-Rose Wilson of Edinburgh College of Art and Sarah Dargie, Glasgow Caledonian University. Illness is a strange country, with few maps or signposts. But with writing and art, and sharing these pieces of experience with each other, we can begin to find our way.
Kim Ah-See / Jennifer Allan / Muireann Crowley / Richard Dargie / Francesca Heard Edinburgh, 2014.
Spinothalamic Tract Harriet M. MacMillan
Palmist Richie McCaffery
Touch Tracey S. Rosenberg
Dull Cath Nichols
Mole Removal Helen Addy
On Her Return from Afghanistan Russell Jones
Dissociation Helena Durham
Old Anatomical Theatre, Tartu Samuel Tongue
Physical Diagnosis Jack Coulehan
Blood Libel Tracey S. Rosenberg
All of Me Chelsea Cargill
Wattie Lesley Dargie
Prelude Alexandra Bertrude
After the Rainbow Mark A. Radcliffe
Nothing was out in place to stop the growth Jill Tegan Doherty
The Rites of Passage Rachael Allen
Untitled Jill Tegan Doherty
Significance Emily McDougall
An Uplifting Day Beth McCausland
Muscle_002 Drosophila_004 Carla Streckwall
Untitled Danielle Lynch
Anonymous: Ger Susanne Wawra
The Anatomy Lab Rachel Allen
Broken Figurines Jessica Harrison
Untitled Alexandra Bertrude
Front cover: Emily McDougall. To Prey, 2013, Pencil and pastel on paper, 55 x 86 cm. Back cover: Emily McDougall. Oh Deer, 2013. Pencil and pastel on paper, 86 x 55 cm. See p54 for more details.
Harriet M. MacMillan Harriet MacMillan is 25 years old and lives in Oxford while she pursues a Master of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford. She is from Edinburgh and graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2010 with an M.A. in English Literature. She is currently writing her first novel.
I love you from a distance, Stroke you as a phantom limb. I writhe for you in the night, clamber at the air to find you gone, to find you not there. The double negative of you develops in the dark room of my sleep, until shadows of red and black overwhelm me. The root of the itch grows in the graveyard of nerves that haunts where you used to be: In my arms, in my ears. I swear, at times I can hear you as the need to scratch travels up the curve of my unkissed spine. It would take more to separate us than a scalpel or miles of map. Still, I wait in obsidian night, touching the empty space beside me. The relief will be sweet, like the emptying of a full bladder. Every kiss will be a stitch that dissolves so that none may see the seam. Then only heat will rise up my spinothalamic tract. Until then, I scratch red in the black.
Tracey S. Rosenberg Tracey S. Rosenberg is the author of the historical novel The Girl in the Bunker (2011) and a poetry pamphlet, Lipstick is Always a Plus (2012). Her poems have been published in a variety of journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association.
He loved stroking her body awake in the giddy dawn. His fingers wandered her stretch marks, the freckles she despised, her generous breasts, belly, thick sticky hair he never delved into without trembling – she might find him intrusive, jig her smooth hips to spill him back onto the sheets. When she murmured, turned towards him, marking his shoulder blades with her fingers, she always reshaped her body to allow him in. The doctors’ fleshy hands are gloved. Through latex they adjust her skin by inches. The surgeon’s finger stands in for the blade: it will remove her, just here. He keeps his helpless hands still. This is not his body.
Jill Tegan Doherty Jill Tegan Doherty is an artist from Nottingham, England. She graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design in London in 2006 and now lives and works in Berlin. Doherty’s work up to now, exhibited in various spaces including the Royal Academy and The Mall Galleries in London, has been filled with twisted geological forms, and unnerving combinations of the human and animal. Physical instability surfaces in the work through an almost playful act. Her work not only crosses the line between nature’s creatures but also between the physical, non-physical, conscious and unconscious states of being. Doherty’s paintings present us with a curious and delectable dish that will not necessarily be smoothly digested nor nourish its spectator. Dipping into this realm in which representation and fantasy meld, this artist emerges with unsettling images of a fragile and rare beauty.
Jill Tegan Doherty. Nothing was out in place to stop the growth, 2012. Oil on canvas, 119cm x 86cm.
Chelsea Cargill Chelsea Cargillâ€™s creative non-iction has appeared in FuseLit, Spilling Ink Review and Duality and Friction. Her iction has been published in Pushing Out The Boat, Lines Underwater and New Voices Pressâ€™ Shorelines. She is currently working on her irst novel, which is the fantastical tale of an amnesiac heroine on a cruise ship. She also co-runs the Edinburgh Antisocial Writers Club.
ALL OF ME
only lived in the cottage for a week before the terrible news came about my mum. I left in a hurry, boxes piled in corners, phoneline unconnected. When I arrived home, she was sitting on the sofa surrounded by tissues and flowers, watching daytime TV. I decided never to leave her side. It wasnâ€™t long before I had a new daily routine. I arrange the flowers that arrive for her: the brightly coloured ones that are her favourites; bouquets with unopened lilies in them that always outlive the rest and leave a cloying smell for days after they are gone. I attend to the days-old ones, cutting off the dead flowers and sprucing up what is left, putting survivors into smaller vases next to Granâ€™s cut garden flowers. I look out for the postie coming around midday and open the junk mail addressed to Mum, looking through the catalogues and special offers and reading out the best ones. Soon there is also junk mail addressed to me. There are special offers on health aids, foot spas, lantern lights, thimbles from the Owl Sanctuary with a special request to Save Walter the concussed owl, commemorative plates. Later in the afternoon, we
wait for the Avon lady to return with our orders or deliver the new catalogue so I can rub the pages of scent on my wrist and ponder the difference in shade between Shining Rose and Radiant Rose. * An eyelash sticks to my cheek, losing its power to grant wishes when I have to prise it off with my fingernail. My rituals are useless. When I have prayed to the saints I have not been rewarded with physical recovery. There was no shrinking of tumours or doctors proclaiming miracles or regaining lost youth or being-able-to-do-it-allagain, or a cure for tiredness, fear or macular degeneration. But I was rewarded for my efforts with citalopram. Reading the label, I am reminded of its life-giving properties. Increases serotonin levels. Wards off feelings of impending doom. The Patient Information Leaflet lists the recognised side-effects as: sleeplessness, memory loss, abnormal dreaming, dribbling, changed taste sensations, a slow heartbeat, jerky movements, an exaggerated sense of well-being, not being able to focus your eyes properly, difficulty sitting still, feelings of unreality, collapse, increased suicidality, coma. But none of these have afflicted
me yet, citalopram, no jerking or lack of pulse! Still the leaflet misses out the most life-giving property of all. It is the cure for This Is The Last Time. When I sat eating chips with Mum on the seafront bench in July, I knew it was probably the last time we would ever do this, but I was still able to chew and smile. We could still laugh at the seagulls massing behind us on the hill, increasing in number each time our backs were turned like a terrible B-movie, and at the police cars that drove along the promenade in front of us to the bottom of the cliffs and back again, aimlessly, devoid of crime or incident, every twenty minutes or so, no captives in backseats. Money that could be spent filling holes in roads or clearing away sinister birds. And we still looked in wonder at the man running along the top of the far hill with a parachute, being lifted into the air and returned to earth, as if it were something we could watch time and time again, not that This Was The Last Time. * Mum has been taken into hospital for the swelling in her stomach. Tubes are draining the fluid, which is held in plastic bags. I sit at home wondering where it will end. In another week or so, the fluid will gather again, swelling her into an obscene pregnancy we fear might burst. Today, there is a concrete building and ward number one and drawn curtains. Mum lies in the farthest bed, weak and covered with a blanket, her bare foot sticking out (did I cover it?). She breathes fast and has to put on her oxygen mask. When she catches her breath she says, ‘The transfusion will help.’ It is only then I notice a tube of blood running into the back of her wrist. A nurse comes to lift the bandage and check for leaks.
There is competition for the private room at the side of the ward: it has its own TV. Mum was the sickest yesterday and could watch Coronation Street and Jools Holland. Just before we arrived, however, she was shunted out in favour of the woman near the door. ‘She’s perked up now, hasn’t she?’ says Mum. She does an impression of what the woman looked like before they came to move her things: head slumped to one side, hand grasping in vain for a tissue, eyes rolling in pain. After she is wheeled away, we hear the sound of laughter coming from the side-room, relatives crowding in, chattering, sweets being passed around. ‘Who gets to watch Columbo now?’ says Mum. I had dreaded seeing her in here. But it is warm and the voices muffled, and it is hard to imagine anything bad happening. An old lady lies unmoving three beds down, not making a sound. There is a rigmarole as nurses try to locate Mum’s lost mirror – different candidates being brought through that are too large, too silver, too new. She is left one that is not hers and told just to keep it. A new woman arrives in the recently vacated bed. ‘Everyone, this is Christine,’ says the nurse. ‘Hi.’ ‘Hello,’ says everyone. ‘We’ve met before,’ says Mum, but the woman looks across blankly, her eyes unfocussed. Mum whispers, ‘She’s the one that asked me if she should continue the treatment, or just be left to die.’ The curtains are opened and the ceiling lights turned on. Apparently, we arrived during sleepy-time, where patients are supposed to rest mid-afternoon after being woken up at dawn then lying still all day.
Later, I think how Mum was talking non-stop in the hospital, pausing only to breathe through the oxygen mask. Before, she only talked this way in front of strangers and other people she felt were judging her. On the way out, we drive past the ward. ‘That’s her bed there,’ says Dad, ‘next to the window.’ We can’t see her through the strip blinds and so we wave blindly at the window, not knowing if she can see.
a one-hour waiting time for prescriptions. There were three options to take advantage of while waiting: go for a coffee, or come back another time; the third suggestion had been scored out completely with a black marker pen. Timeless Medical Truths were laminated and pinned on the wall, such as how not to catch Hepatitis C. When I looked up I could see a delicate painting amongst all of this: two figures, a mother and child, sitting in a beach house and surrounded by impressions of children and dogs captured through refracted light.
* * The only time I’d been to a hospital in recent years was to see a consultant for my chronic fatigue. It was not so different to Ninewells or unloved hospitals anywhere. A barrier gate with a stop sign met you going in, propped open at one side of the road, then a sequence of disjointed buildings: a Victorian poorhouse, one made of breezeblocks, a building site, a central stone building highlighting entrances to different departments, angular and bewildering. The road was narrow and twisted round the hospital, egged on by many signposts with arrows pointing in opposite directions and an overload of road markings – lines, chevrons, invented symbols. A sign said they were introducing a one-way system. The walls in the waiting room were barely visible behind layers of notices built up through many years. Are you going abroad in the next six months? Have you come into contact with the following: a needle, mosquitoes, a rabid dog? Would you like to take part in my survey of people attending outpatient clinics? Do you need help with cooking, cleaning, gardening, getting here on time? A photocopied sheet of paper stuck on the wall next to the display unitsannounced that there was now
It wasn’t so long ago that I caught up with my friend Kimie, a Japanese woman in her late 70s, who was being treated for the ovarian cancer that Mum would turn out to have only a month later. She’d had it before and told me it was coming back. I didn’t realise then that, if it returned there was no chance of cure. I still planned to play piano duets with her again one day. She sat next to me on my futon-couch and told me the whole story, looking so thin, much smaller than before when she was already small, her thighs only bones and muscle, her chest dropping down in a straight line to her hips. She was fragile as tissue paper but still laughing and telling me how positive she felt. When she was able to she jumped on buses, walked along the river and learned the clarinet, resting when she had to. I imagined her, tiny and alone in the surgery department, her abdomen swelling up with fluid while she could hardly breathe or eat, being ignored with chaos and noise all around her. It turned out they drained nine litres of fluid from her swollen belly. Why would cancer do this to
you, I did not ask. ‘Everyone gets it,’ she said, ‘it’s just waiting for a chance to get through, a moment of weakness.’ She tells me that she was in and out of hospital all through her twenties. A dog with rabies had bitten her and she had to have terrible injections into her spine. One time she escaped, running out of the hospital without any shoes. She had grown hair on her arms and body and her teeth fell out. ‘I began again at thirty,’ she smiles. She got a teaching post after returning to university. Then thirty years later she came to Scotland: a new chapter. ‘Life is long,’ she told me, ‘so you don’t need to worry’. Her friends came to wash her when she was too weak. They are now flamenco dancing in Spain.
in response. She tells me that one night she was taken for an X-ray, and a porter wheeled her through the deserted corridors. It was quiet and the way was dimly lit by yellow lights. The porter said he had a background in musical theatre like Mum and began singing All of Me by Frank Sinatra, starting off quietly and building up to a crescendo at the end. You took the part that once was my heart. So why not – take all of me! He took the long way back to the ward and delivered her on the last note. She smiled.
* Mum is back from the hospital after a week of blank solitude. With the transfusion and steroids I thought she would look better than she does. Her stomach has been drained but does not look much smaller. She is often close to tears and says she can’t talk about what they did to put the drain in but she had to hold onto her toy monkey. I hear her mention later that blood was coming out and the doctor was starting to panic. Her voice is weaker and higher-pitched than before and she sings along when music comes on the TV. I thought she would be sleeping less. She styles her growing-back hair into spikes and looks beautiful with her green, brownflecked eyes looking up at me. I smile and bring her ginger beer. When Sammy Davis Jr. sings The Rhythm of Life on TV she says unexpectedly, ‘Maybe they’ll play this at my funeral’. I swallow
Helen Addy Helen Addy is from Forres. She has been previously published in BUGGED, Snakeskin, From Glasgow to Saturn, Shetland Librariesâ€™ Bards in the Bog project and has a poem forthcoming in the Indigo Dreamsâ€™ Macmillan Cancer anthology, Heart Shoots. She is currently working on a first pamphlet.
When the doctor says procedure, you think long needles, insufficient anaesthetic, an apple corer digging deep for the dark oneâ€™s roots. Instead, her gentle hands indicate a small injection, a freeze as familiar as recent weather, incisions faint as brackets: surgeryâ€™s precise grammar replacing the rogue full stop.
Jill Tegan Doherty
Jill Tegan Doherty. Untitled, 2007. Oil on canvas, 165cm x 152cm. See p14 for more details.
Lesley Dargie Lesley Dargie worked as a Health Visitor in Aberdeen for almost 30 years. She has written poems and stories for some time, mostly inspired by the patients and situations that she encountered during her working life.
his time I was really ill. “Affa nae weel.” It was much worse than the measles and my lungs felt as if they were made of paper. I ended up in the Fever Hospital. They said it was TB and I had to be kept in quarantine for fear of smiting other folk. Nine months I spent in the place. No visitors allowed but Ma came to the window and looked in. Sometimes Alfie would come and show me his latest cartie. “Y’ll seen be oot, Ackie. Dinna fash yersel’.” Sometimes my twin brother Jimmie came to show off and make faces. “GGGGGGwwwwwaaaa hhhhaaamme yyyye ggggaalllllooooot. Aaaaaaa’llllll tttteeellll MMMMmmmma ooooon yyyyyye.” I had a bad stammer and shouting at him through the window was really a waste of time. * We were really well fed, us patients. Got all our meals laid on and if we were lucky Gladys would be on duty at dinner time and we would get seconds. We all liked Gladys. She was the only nurse that didn’t talk posh.
“C’mon an sup up yer porridge, loons. Gies ye hair on yer chests an sticks tae yer ribs.” My lungs did a pretty good job of sticking to my ribs as it was, without any extra help. Sister was very posh. She came round with the doctors every morning and we got our Sunday names. “And how is Alexander this morning, Sister?” “Slept well. Expectorant clear. Passing urine and bowels open. Temperature stable.” It was years before I learned what bowels meant. When Sister asked every night, “Have your bowels opened today?” you just said “Aye, miss” or else you got some horrible stuff to drink. I learned fast. My chum was wee Walter in the next bed. He was there when I was brought in and he showed me the ropes, took me to the toilet and told me where the nurses kept their sweeties. “Ye’ve bin eatin oor sweeties, ye nickums,” they used to chide. They never moved them. You’d almost think they wanted us to eat them. Wattie was a great chum. He was a year older than me. Ten, and a man of the world - he had no Ma and Da but had six brothers and a
sister, all in the Homie. “Ah wish I didna hae a Ma an Da, like you. I widna miss the belt, I’ll tell ye.” “Na, ye widna wint ‘at, Ackie, I fair miss mi Ma.” Wattie was really ill. He had something else wrong with him, and the nurses used to spoil him a bit. “Fit wye diz he aye get fower tatties ‘en?” “Cos he’s bin here langer than a’ you lot pit ‘igither, ‘at’s foo, ye greedy gypes.” Gladys had a fair way with words. We were still in the ward when Christmas came around and we helped to make decorations out of crêpe paper. I had never seen crêpe paper before. Even the teachers at school didn’t have any. “Dr Baird bought this for the children, Nurse MacKechnie. Make sure they make some nice streamers for the ward. Santa Claus will be pleased.” Santa Claus was coming to us. Wattie and me weren’t daft. We knew all about Santa and bairns’ stuff. We made the biggest streamers in the whole hospital and Santa Claus came on Christmas Day. He was grand. “Well, Alexander, what would you like for Christmas?” I got a huge paint box. I loved painting or drawing, with anything. A piece of charcoal on paper. Chalk on a slate. I could make a good copy of any picture. It was the one thing that stopped the kids from laughing at me. I maybe couldn’t speak right but I could fairly draw better than anybody I knew. Jimmie would be sick with jealousy now. I held it up at the window for him to see. “Nnnnnnaaannnnnnannnnnannnnnannnaaa!” I believed in Santa Claus alright.
Wattie got a dartboard. He was brilliant. Used to play us for sweeties and dazzies and won the lot. I was hopeless. “Far did ye learn tae play like yon?” I asked him once. “The Stag’s Heid, far else?” That was my Da’s local pub. Goodness knows how Wattie was allowed in there. The ward was covered in my paintings and the bedcovers sometimes got covered in paint. Gladys used to hide them from Sister. She took them home and washed them herself so that I wouldn’t get into trouble. Her husband Alfie worked in the paper mill and got loads of paper for me. Wattie loved my pictures and used to ask me to help him draw. He was pretty awful but some of his efforts were hung on the wall and he was so proud. We hung them over the holes in the wall where the dartboard was. “Well, Alexander, you are making good progress. Soon have you out of here and home with your family.” It was true, I was longing to get home but I but I would fair miss Wattie. “Ye’ll gin awa Ackie, bit ye’ll mind tae come back an’ see me, wull ye?” “Nae fear, Wattie. Ye hinna deen coaching me at the darts’.” * One day there was an advert in the local paper. “Jist the thing, Ackie. A competition. The best painting wins a prize. A signed fitba’ frae the Dons thimselves. Fit dae ye say tae that, then?” This was another of Gladys’ schemes but it seemed a cinch. A real leather football was a rare
thing. We used to play with stones, tin cans and, if we were lucky, a patched-up bladder. “It’s a caker, Ackie. Ye’ll win wi yer een shut. Ah’d fair like tae hae a fitba’ wi’ a’ thir names on’t.” Wattie was a Dons fanatic. Sometimes, when he was well, Gladys’s husband took him to Pittodrie along with their boys. He had looked so small inside the borrowed jacket and red and white scarf. Dr Baird gave him a red bonnet. All the kids in the ward sent pictures to the paper. I did the best one ever, of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I hadn’t seen the film or anything but I copied the figures from a bill poster stuck on the wall opposite my window. I signed the entry in Wattie’s name. He won. His face was a dream. When they heard he was in the hospital, the football team came to visit, but they weren’t allowed in. Dr Baird presented Wattie with his prize. “Dinna you dare let on,” I said to Gladys. She was the only one who knew. It wasn’t long after that when Wattie took a bad turn. You could tell by the cough that it wasn’t good and he got so upset at night for keeping us awake. Sometimes I would lie beside him because he got real scared. “Ah’m affa feart, Ackie.” I used to hold him tight. He got delirious. Thought he saw things crawling up the walls. Sometimes he was right. One morning his bed was empty. I must have slept through. The sheets were off and the rubber cover was shining wet. “Far’s Wattie? Ah hinna said cheerio.” I left the hospital a few weeks later. I didn’t take the football. Wattie took that with him. I’ve still got the dartboard though. Still hopeless as hell.
GLOSSARY OF DORIC TERMS Affa nae weel: Smitting: Dinna fash: Oot: Loon: Nickum: Fair: Bairn: Dazzies: Far: Fitba: A caker: Een: Affa feart:
Very unwell Contaminating Donâ€™t worry Out Boy Rascal Very, real; can also mean accomplished. Baby Marbles Where Football Easy, piece of cake. Eye (s) Very scared
Beth McCausland Beth McCausland is a medical student at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.
Beth McCausland. An Uplifting Day, 2013. Ink on paper, 21 x 29 cm.
Helena Durham Helena Durham is an undergraduate studying for a BA (Hons) in Creative and Professional Writing at the University of Nottingham. A former nurse, and a trauma survivor, she is interested in how writing and mindfulness can encourage personal and community wellbeing.
dis · so · ci · a · tion, n. The state of being disconnected; a short-ter m defence mechanism against trauma; a debilitating post-survival disorder. to pack seaside t-shirts, pullover fleeces and unread books to abandon the scent of pillow, the softness of rabbit’s ear to be doing this grown-up thing to take the train to feel it pick up the heart beat to lose a city, become blind to its name on the route map to inhale salted air to exhale six hours of accumulated nothing to to to to
see an estuary mouth, to consider its width, its tides fear its swallow and the lack of land rub the right hand on white wash, the left on pastel stucco fish for the name of this village
to remember in moments of being here where there is to wish the flip-flops had not been forgotten to take photos of Pinky Murphy’s with its knitting-for-all basket, its clotted cream tea to say this is the warmest place in Fowey in July to make a transient discovery: memory is a flickering light bulb to plunge into darkness to be fog over the sea to trust this is the day to leave to read the ticket’s destination, to follow instructions saying change, change, change
to wash up at some station, unable to make sense of the next reservation to have sufficient presence to ring to hear her voice saying New Street? Then you’re in Birmingham. Look for the train to Nottingham. Platform 11? One foot, then the other. Breathe, breathe gently. Ring once you’re home. to be conveyed to compare steam from the cooling towers with clouds over the bay on Wednesday to stroke the pebble pocketed for its smoothness on Thursday to rummage for the door key, to be tickled by beach sand from the paddle on Friday to be familiar with the click of the door in the warmth of red brick to sip hot chocolate from a favourite mug to snuggle up with pillow, to stroke rabbit’s ear to close down to wake up, to check the calendar to wonder why a line was drawn through last week to shrug to shop, because the milk has gone off
Danielle Lynch. Untitled, 2014. Pen, pencil and ink on paper, 280 x 210 mm.
Danielle Lynch is an Edinburgh-based artist and illustrator. Her organic landscapes are concerned with the occupation of time, interpreted through line and mark making. Her work explores the chaotic beauty of repetition, layering and patterns. Structure and composition derive from interaction with materials, allowing for areas of untouched paper to become as important as the physical image. Working meditatively and with everyday materials, Lynch uses line as a tool to physically document time while maintaining the notion of an unknown outcome.
Danielle Lynch. Untitled, 2014. Pen, pencil and ink on paper, 280 x 210 mm.
Rachael Allen is a visual artist and researcher living and working in Newcastle. Her visual artwork and research explores the interface between human sciences, medicine, anatomy and arts methodologies, practicing under the umbrella of medical humanities as well as upholding an independent and collaborative arts practice, nationally and internationally.
Rachael Allen. The Anatomy Lab (6), 2011. Pencil on paper, excerpt.
Alexandra Bertrude Alexandra is a doctor working in Greater Glasgow.
Dark scraps of cloud and smoke lie strewn across the sun’s afternoon, above the misgrown village tapestry of light and shade, a foreshortened Edinburgh suburb stacked before wooded hills becomes another day’s dramatic panorama from the wall-sized window clasping the hospital stairwell. Dust from within and dirt from outwith, too beautiful in the light. A further moment’s pause for the medical student, the undigestables of the morning are given some space, if little else. A cigarette would help. Somewhere in view, a young woman’s mundanity was approaching breaking point slowly, in the depths of her darkened room on the other side of town. Her morning had brought with it a throbbing haze and pain as the concomitant sharpening and blunting of existence, confirmations dissolving. Infection of a source unknown grew slowly in her brainstem: that formless stretch an anatomical abstraction remaining a gatekeeper to humanity (to put aside a moment the innumerable prerequisites). It would be another two days until she too would fleetingly look through blurred eyes and the dust of the oversized glass wall from her trolley towards intensive care with certainties slipping through her fingers: the control and
ownership of her stilled face and deviant hands, weakly holding her mother’s and the student’s, the ability of incongruous eyes to bring the world into any sort of focus. Later, after fumbled examinations of the woman as a teaching object, silent sympathies not soothing a surgeon’s reductions, and hurried goodbyes: returning to an empty floor by the window where her bed had been, bigger than any bed could fill. A suspicous nurse reluctantly furthers, “She’s gone to theatre” - as if out of choice, a last-moment seat in the stalls or a birthday ticket’s perch in the Gods. The medical student descends the darkening corridors, now a late-comer, and lingers offstage behind the curtain, a fabric away the farewells and anaesthetics. A man, sobbing, emerges clinging to a sports bag and a nurse he met that afternoon, “Just bring her back!”. And down the unknown corridor; his wife leaves by another door. Anything for an ‘Exeunt stage left’, a closure of this tragedy and release from these fated roles. A curtain to fall on two days ago. The guilty student emerges from behind the turquoise screen, she’ll not be with us now. In time to see her face plastered over with orange tape, keeping her intubated and anon-
ymous. Two other students scuttle from aside, masked, hesitant. Delicate procedures, wires introduced into neck veins, the onset of paralysis and deep relaxants. Quiet. She is exposed for chest monitors, a thinnest veil her gown untied, lifted away. She is left for some minutes, no listenings to lungs nor heart. The deep irrelevance of her leopard-print briefs, her abstract breasts; no-one should lie naked and comatose before twelve strangers.
student catches her shifting reflection amongst the mirrorsâ€™ dark forms; otherwise alone in state, facing the wall and spotlit by a free-standing thousand watt lamp, the woman is art for a moment while the surgeons scrub their arms outside.
There are no objections as the student covers her up. Her head is held in a threepronged neurosurgical vice, sharp points bear down to bone, surely too tight. She is suspended twisted, almost prone, but the surgeon is â€œvery happy with her positionâ€?. The jovial man reflects a history of barbers past as he delicately trims her nape and occiput, and strokes her hair across her face. Dyed-blonde rays radiate from this patch of darker innocence revealed, a new and touching undercut disorientates front from back. Fingerfuls of soft hair float high in the clinical waste bin, but the student refrains. Then the swift marcation in ostensibly permanent ink, black felt rustles on the fresh bristle of the pre-incised. The final conversion: skin becomes anatomy as the surgeon soothes red iodine, ritual ochre, to her skin and through her hair. Gauze, used once in pincered fingers and silently discarded. Red change drips down her back as she is wheeled in situ into the small dark theatre, a geodesic relic from the 50s, a spherical pod with a prime number of round lamps and rounder mirrors built into the curved walls and roof, no longer in operation, bulbs presumed archaic. To imagine this dome within the bowels of the breezeblock cuboid; the hospital will soon leave this site and leave an even stranger empty shell. The
Alexandra Betrude. Untitled, 2011. Mangetic resonance image.
See also p40.
Rachael Allen, The Rites of Passage.
Rachael Allen, The Rites of Passage.
Rachael Allen, The Rites of Passage. Pencil on paper, wooden frame, pvc sheeting, soil from Zakynthos*. 114 x 54 x 15 cm
third largest of the Greek Ionian Islands, where Vesalius was buried in 1564 (Ed.).
“Great teacher, I give you flowers. I carry your body to the funeral pyre. When you burn, may every space in you that I have named flare and burst into light.” [Body of Work: Meditations of Mortality From The Human Anatomy Lab by Christine Montross]
An anonymised human cadaver – part dissected, part imagined, part buried – The Rites of Passage is richly textured with notions of “Anatomy” and “dissection” as prevalent metaphors for “uncovering” the truth of anatomical study as a rite of passage for both medical student and specimen. The medical student cuts through the skin of the dead to access deeper layers of knowledge, to eventually treat life, whilst the dead donate their bodies to expose the truth about life before returning to the earth in the ritual of cremation. Embodying these cyclical processes, The Rites of Passage is not a mere medical study but a poetic reverie on the fragility and wonder of life – glimpsed in a study of death.
Samuel Tongue Samuel Tongue was part of the 2010 Clydebuilt Verse Apprenticeship scheme, mentored by Liz Lochhead. He currently holds the Callan Gordon Award, part of the Scottish Book Trustâ€™s New Scottish Writer Awards for 2013-2014, and was recently shortlisted in Magmaâ€™s Ten Line Poems Competition.
OLD ANATOMICAL THEATRE, TARTU
She’s hard to see, sun blazing of the glass but if I strain and squint into this museum’s dark cabinet, I can see her sepia photograph. She lies back, arm behind her head, supine, an artist’s survey of his reclining muse, back arched just slightly for a better view, the warm sweep of her breast circled with ine shadow, her lazy hand drawing lines of sight to a belly lattened by her pose, legs arranged to keep the gaze insinuated, bewitched. I read her browning caption, typed in English, Estonian and Russian: ‘woman on a slab—killed by her lover, unknown’: not posing but thrown, those dark strokes not shadow but slashes, opened by steel, again and again; some drunken, vicious, night-sharpened rage, her mouth fallen open, suggesting a scream stopped tight in her chest. Her open eyes gleam. I blunt my gaze and look away.
Emily McDougall My work is influenced by the anatomy hidden below the surface of the skin. I am interested in the â€œnormalisationâ€? of anatomy, steering away from the macabre and focussing more on the beauty of the concealed structures that surround us constantly. A main interest of mine is the way in which we cannot identify the intricate structures within our own body. These pieces of anatomy are fundamentally what make us a living being, and yet through a fear of gore (or more so, a fear of confronting our mortality) we avoid the subject. The work is more about life than of death. It is what is within the living. www.emilymcdougall.com
See also: Front cover: Emily McDougall. To Prey , 2013, Pencil and pastel on paper, 55 x 86 cm. Back cover: Emily McDougall. Oh Deer, 2013. Pencil and pastel on paper, 86 x 55 cm.
Emily McDougall. Signiicance.04, 2013. Pencil and pastel on paper, 6” x 6”.
Emily McDougall. Signiicance.03, 2013. Pencil and pastel on paper, 6” x 6”.
Jack Coulehan Jack Coulehan is a poet, physician, and medical educator whose work appears frequently in medical journals and literary magazines. He is the author of five volumes of poetry, including most recently Bursting With Danger and Music (2012), and co-editor of two anthologies, Blood & Bone and Primary Care: More Poems by Physicians.
Inspection We turned on both lights and shook him until he woke up. To get a good look, we made him lip to the prone position and untied his gown. Amazing! Well-worth a trip to the ifteenth loor. The lesions blanketed his upper back like thousands of ish eggs in a salmon-coloured cloud. Among them, jagged excoriations— he couldn’t stop scratching. Even the drugs didn’t calm him down. His only comfort was sleep. That, and studio wrestling.
Palpation By the time it was my turn to palpate her spleen, the skin that stretched over its rocky surface, angered with hard use. The map of Ohio she hid behind to ignore us, grimaced when I began, and before I had inished the pair of spectacles pincered in her left hand had dropped to the loor. Petulantly, Myers turned and rushed to the next case. A man with a supraclavicular mass. No one bent down to pick up the glasses.
Percussion To demonstrate percussion, Myers drummed on the patient’s abdominal swelling with her in the supine position. He ordered us to listen for the note to change, but I was entranced by the ield of heaped-up scars. How many times had she been stabbed? Myers rotated her and drummed again. This time the dullness had moved, ergo the luid within her was free, subject to gravity. Fluid? In my mind magma was about to erupt, and blow her top. Throughout the discussion she kept reaching for a sheet to cover her nakedness.
Auscultation I stood too close to the patient’s bed and couldn’t escape being the irst to listen to his heart and describe what I heard. Was the murmur sharp and diamond-shaped, or rushing and continuous? I was embarrassed to confess the truth to Myers: beneath my stethoscope a dozen bats luttered from their cave at sundown, low-pitched, eerie laps almost too soft to hear. Nothing like an orthodox ta-dum or swish. After a pause I said: systolic murmur, diamond-shaped. Myers’ upper lip twitched visibly. He knew I lied.
Richie McCaffery Richie McCaffery is a PhD student in the Scottish Literature department of the University of Glasgow, and has had one pamphlet collection published by HappenStance Press, entitled â€˜Spinning Platesâ€™.
On his last holiday at Whitby my Grandfather visits a well-known charlatan palmist. She has a hut by the dock with hand-painted signs: She is nown for her truthfull predictions. His lungs are like black honeycomb but he gives his veiny hands to her. This line here, she says, means long-life and I can see a win on the lottery. This tickles him, he holds her hand with a sweet-and-sour smile. Afterwards he buys the ripest fruit, and screws up his last dud ticket.
Carla Streckwall Microworlds depicts the microcosm of our surrounding elements in its very own way. The photos are taken with a self-made microscope and an artistic rather than scientific approach using light effects and refraction as designing elements. The work was created as part of Carla project â€œThe synth-etic societyâ€?, in which the artist analyzes the influence of synthetic biology on our societal values and approaches to life itself.
Carla Streckwall. Muscle_002, 2013. Digital photomicrograph.
Carla Streckwall. Drosophila_004, 2013. Digital photomicrograph.
Cath Nichols Cath Nichols has two pamphlets, Tales of Boy Nancy (Driftwood, 2005) and Distance (erbacce, 2012) and a collection My Glamorous Assistant (Headland, 2007). She has a PhD from Lancaster and teaches at Leeds University. She has recently presented papers at Liverpool Hope and Edge Hill universities on trans and disability intersections discussed via literary mis/interpretations.
In bed, there is a sound of running water maybe drains, or water from the gutter, I don’t know, there’s something wrong with my ears. Perhaps, the sound is from the bathroom: a tap left on? My partner gestures to the window, “...kale?” But I didn’t hear the gale last night despite this constant whishing. I cannot detect the central heating’s tick, the gurgles from our frost-free fridge, all background sound is gone it’s something to do with pitch. I don’t hear my partner in the shower, the kettle boiling, the car leaving. I worry about taps left on. I miss birdsong.
Susanne Wawra Susanne is a German visual artist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her fascination is the Now, the present moment. The main interest of her work lies in capturing movement, spontaneity and expression. Combining the kinetics of the line, in particular its flowing quality, with reduction and abstraction runs through her clear-cut representations of life. The kinetics of line, contrast and reduction run through her clear-cut representations of life. For her series “Face It”, she created abstract portraits of mental health sufferers. Granting them privacy through abstraction, their stories would go into the paintings and express something of their struggle. Current projects are a series of abstracted portraits (“Face It”), studies of dancers (dance_ink) and lower-inspired lino prints (“In Bloom”). www.susannewawra.com
Susanne Wawra. Anonymous: Ger, 2013 Ink drawing from the series Face It
Mark A. Radcliffe Mark A. Radcliffe is a Senior Lecturer in Nursing at The University of Brighton, a novelist (Gabriel’s Angel. Bluemoose. 2010) and long time columnist with The Nursing Times. His second novel ‘Stranger Than Kindness’ will be published in October 2013. It is a whimsical, hopeful tale about bruised and damaged nurses.
AFTER THE RAINBOW
have no poetry left in me. I manage to dress, to eat, sometimes to wash. I manage to work, but Anna can tell there is something wrong. She says I mumble to myself and I ask her too many questions. This feeling can cut into my lungs like cold air on a hot day. I have been grieving. I understand this, I think about it. I tell Anna that I am mourning the loss of knowing. She says that sounds like crap words in a bad song.
I tell her it is the truth. Certainty belongs to the very young and the easily pleased, and I am neither. She says: “Shut up. You sound like a hippie.” I say that my self-knowledge imbues me with a certain wisdom and I have stumbled across a fundamental truth; it concerns the ignorance of the human spirit, and not very many people could know about that. Anna laughs at me. “Lunatic.” She doesn’t know. There is something rising up inside me, between my throat and my chest and I keep swallowing to keep it down. *
My father was always leaving. Even when he
wasn’t there, he managed to leave. It’s not that he went anywhere special, just away, and maybe he’d come back. Once, he and my mum went in to the kitchen and talked with the door closed. I sneaked into the hallway and put the catch down on the front door. When they came back, I stood in front of him to keep him from going again. And he did stay – for about two weeks. He never came back properly again. A little while after my father left, a judge said that he could take me out on Saturdays. I knew that I had to look after my father – even if I didn’t want to. A judge had said. I played football with my friends on Saturdays – Martin, Paul, my big friend Robert – and I was the best. But when my father came to get me, we would stop playing, and the other boys would stand and watch. No-one ever said anything. On these Saturdays, we never went very far; mostly to the pub. I would sit outside in the car and pretend to drive away. He would sit in the pub and pretend to take me out. One Saturday, when it was hot, he took me to the beach afterwards. I didn’t have any swimming trunks, but he told me I could go in the water in my pants. He said no-one would notice. But they did. One boy, swinging a red bucket piled high with
crabs, looked me up and down. Then he looked at my dad – with his purple face, a coat on despite this summer heat – and I think he understood.
bored and colour in the pictures of what they said while they talked. But that time in the car, I only listened.
Once my father drove me round the coast. The road cut from the cliffs; brown and pink rock hanging over us. His car – as all his cars – was small, old, ridiculous. He’d buy them for ten or thirty pounds when everyone else had given up on them. When they gave up on him, he’d buy another.
Even later, when I worried he had made up the things about willies and girls just as he had William the Conqueror, his speech made sense. He only really made up stuff when my mum was not there, and being inside the chi shop counted as not being there.
We stopped in a place where we could see the sea. He pointed to the clouds and he told me that once, when he was sitting right in this spot, he saw William the Conqueror flying over in his plane with lots of his soldiers. William tried to bomb him – he had to dive for cover. When the bombs stopped, my dad rushed to London to warn the Prime Minister that William the Conqueror was coming. The Prime Minister gave him a medal. He was old, then; he had a small face, tired but handsome. And he always wore a green hat, with a black band round it and a brown feather stuck through it. He never took it off. Sometimes my mum would come out with us. On the way home, we’d stop at the chip shop. My mum would queue for fish and chips, and my father would tell me stories: stories from his childhood, or about what stars were. They were proper stories. He had nowhere else to go, and the yellow lights seemed to make him still. One night, we sat there for hours. He told me the facts of life: men and women and nature. I was nine and a quarter. Normally when grown-ups talked for a long time, I needed pictures in my head to understand. I’d get
I had only been away from home for a week when my mum told me that my father had died. When she told me I was sitting on the big bed, her bed, and I cried. I cried because dead means there is nothing you can do to make it OK, because I should have been looking after him, especially on Saturdays; because I would never see him again and that was worst of all. When I looked up from my hands, the colours – all the colours – were gone. They never came back. After that, I went away to sing. In church, they said God punished people for their sins. That sins were bad things you do, but not all bad things were sins. That some bad things were necessary. I thought it sounded like making things up. I sang in church. Not because of God – but because there was nowhere else. I had always thought he would have been better at being a dad if he had just practised. *
After Anna tells me she’s pregnant, I don’t contact her for a few days. It’s not that I want to make her sweat. I know, absolutely, that there was no possibility of her sweating. That look on her face - cold, almost spiteful - when she told me.
I wait because I hope that she’ll stop being so angry. I’m waiting for a route back into this affair – an affair that used to be mine. But if I’m to be a dad – if that child is mine – then anything is possible. I can’t not know. Eventually, I call Anna and leave a message. Something cool, but not too cool. “Hi, it’s me. It would be good to talk, hope you’re OK, I’ll be in all evening. Don’t worry if it’s late – I’ll be up, I’ve got lots to do.” I’ve even planned the tone: placating, warm, good intonation. She used to say I had a sexy voice. She doesn’t call back. I call again. And again. I wake up from a dream like ink filling my lungs. It weighed me down, pinned me to the bed. And sitting on my bed, wearing a car coat and his green feathered hat, is my father. He won’t leave me alone. When he speaks – which he does often, especially when I want a little peace – his voice is not inside my head but on the radio, during Newsnight on the television, on my shoulder and whispering in my ear. He tells me things about me, things about Anna. He tells me that life is what you live with, how you live with it. He tells me to go see Anna. And I do. I want to make the effort – practise at being a good dad. I go alone and I take my dad.
Jessica Harrison Born in St Bees in 1982, Jessica moved to Scotland to study sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art in 2000, going on to do an MFA before completing a practice-led PhD in sculpture in 2013 funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Her research considers the relationship between interior and exterior spaces of the body, but looks neither inwards towards a hidden core, nor outwards from the subconscious, instead looking orthogonally across the skin to the movement of the body itself, using the surface of the body as a mode of both looking and thinking. www.jessicaharrison.com
he acquisition of knowledge in the West, particularly our knowledge about the body, has traditionally been about breaking through a shell to an inner core to reveal hidden, inner truths (Didier Anzieu, The Skin Ego, 1989). The Broken sculptures question this formula, as in their rupture an unexpected and impossible interior is exposed. This particular interior is overtly female, a space still found to be laced with taboo in a way that the male interior is not. The gender bias of an interior, invisible space is one of the themes addressed in this body of work, as the Broken sculptures flaunt their specifically female interior unapologetically, for all to see. Our tactile associations with porcelain, a material of which we have a clear and physical tactile impression without the necessity to touch, generate a tension in the Broken sculptures. Here, what should be hard is soft, what should be brittle is flexible, what should be fragile is fleshy, what should be precious is broken. These bodily expectations make ceramics an ideal medium with which to
explore our tactile certainties of objects and the relationship between what is considered to be outside the body and what is believed to be inside. Harrisonâ€™s practice ultimately seeks to move away from a binary distinction between inside and outside the body, between the visible and the hidden, working with various materials to explore the relationship between these apparently defined bodily spaces. Using the surface of the body as a model for both looking and thinking, she moves beyond a bi-directional inwards/outwards bodily framework to explore a mingling of skin and space, body and world. As ready-made, mass-produced ceramics that have been found and re-worked by Harrison, the Broken sculptures exist alongside millions of their unbroken counterparts that reside on mantelpieces and in glass cabinets around the world. Counter to the idealistic and unrealistic way of living that the unbroken figurines illustrate, the Broken figurines describe a turning inside out of middle-class Englishness; a self-destructive ornamentation where object becomes organ, private becomes public, inside becomes outside.
Jessica Harrison. Sibyl, 2013. Found ceramic, epoxy resin, enamel paint, acrylic varnish. 20.5 x 14 x 13.5 cm
Jessica Harrison. Samantha , 2013. Found ceramic, epoxy resin, enamel paint, acrylic varnish. 21 x 12.5 x 10 cm
Jessica Harrison. Olivia, 2013. Found ceramic, epoxy resin, enamel paint, acrylic varnish. 21 x 13.5 x 11 cm
Jessica Harrison. Elisabeth, 2010. Found ceramic, epoxy resin, enamel paint, acrylic varnish. 19 x 13 x 13 cm
Russel Jones Russell is a poet, editor and researcher based in Edinburgh. He has two published collections of his poetry: “The Last Refuge” and “Spaces of Their Own”, is the editor of “Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poems from the UK” and is a guest editor for the Interdisciplinary Science Reviews.
ON HER RETURN FROM AFGHANISTAN
My sister told me how sheâ€™d sewn the stomachs of two boys who set of a land mine whilst playing football near the market; removed the overcooked skin, tendons, muscle and cartilage from the legs of a woman trying to save her photos from a house ire; administered the drugs to a man she had eaten eggs with, knowing his death was certain. At my mumâ€™s wedding she was hit by a tirade of Oh, how do you do it? Smiled, told them it was a job, that she just pulled the theatre curtain, hovered in helicopters, let the bullets ly as she loaded them onto the stretcher. You become immune, just a robot, just a doctor. During the wedding reception we sat in the drum of the disco and wept because neither of us had said goodbye to our Nan before she died.
Tracey S. Rosenberg For biography and other featured work “Touch”, see p12.
You loved my body all the lecks and nicks and scabs of me, the lumps you brushed with your stubby ingers as you argued away possible malignancies. You shrugged when I explained the disorders of my great-great-grandmother, dirty inbred cells churning through the shtetl and riding her bloodstream till they latched so deeply in her uterus she couldn’t give life without passing them on. It’s a mystery. It’s a long, long story. Of course, I in my own personal diaspora never opened my suburban front door to ind a baby’s drained corpse speared to the welcome mat. I would never call myself a martyr to religion. You, on the other hand, would have been smarter to learn from history. Remember the ones who couldn’t get the hell out of Europe? Who didn’t know what was coming, or assumed such things don’t happen nowadays, not when we’re so modern, not so Jewish anymore? I’m sorry, love, to have kept from you how many ways you’d be burdened not simply with me vomiting in the car, handles in the shower but generations of my cancer-riddled family. I thought I’d assimilated enough.
Submission is now open for the 2015 edition of The Lumen!
All writers and artists may include a short biography (~50 words) with their submission. Anonymous or joint authorship is permitted. All published works will be copyright the author.
Fiction Short pieces up to ~3000 words in length in any style or genre. Stories should be standalone and complete works. Poetry Poems up to ~70 lines in length. Visual art Digital images up to 10 MB. Please include title, date, media and size as applicable. Non-fiction prose Narrative/memoir and essays up to ~3000 words in length Reviews Short reviews of any current or historical artworks relevant to medicine and up to ~500 words in length.
All submissions and queries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Front cover: Emily McDougall. To Prey , 2013, Pencil and pastel on paper, 55 x 86 cm. Back cover: Emily McDougall. Oh Deer, 2013. Pencil and pastel on paper, 86 x 55 cm. See p54 for more details.
Welcome to the first issue of The Lumen, a magazine for new literature and visual art on the themes of illness, medicine and healthcare.
Published on Apr 23, 2015
Welcome to the first issue of The Lumen, a magazine for new literature and visual art on the themes of illness, medicine and healthcare.