So I've been catching up on a few things that fell by the wayside during the run of "4 Noses." Yesterday I got a check-up with my doctor, and was telling her a little bit about the show.
"Oh my goodness, that's so funny because my nine year old is obsessed with this guy who had four noses - Tyco B____... I'll have to ask her. He lost his nose in a duel or something. Apparently he had gold, silver, brass noses - each for different occasions. She's been doing all this research and a report for school."
I can't believe I've never heard of this guy! Sure enough I googled 'Tyco four noses,' and there he was: Tycho Ottesen Brahe, Danish, 1546 - 1601; "The first competent mind in modern astronomy to feel ardently the passion for exact empirical facts." (Exactly what I struggle with in the play!)
Apparently, he lost the bridge of his nose in a duel with a third cousin over a mathematical formula. Since neither could prove they were right, the duel was to settle it. Tycho lost his nose. He made up with the cousin a few weeks later, but from then on wore prosthetics attached with paste or glue.
The facts about his death are a little inconclusive. Mercury poisoning seemed likely from all the metal noses. Then there was some suspicion of foul play. But there was also an excruciating kidney incident shortly before he died: Banquet, Prague, no polite way to excuse himself to pee, Uremia.
After Danish Scientists exhumed him from his tomb in Prague and did more tests, (2012) they ruled out murder and mercury. Tycho Brahe died from a burst bladder. Exact. Empirical. Ow.
My mother's poems still surprise me, I am finding her very essence in them.
Today, it's "Each Joseph:"
Intrepid Joseph, far from home, hated by
brothers who had cast him in a pit, taken
his coat of many colors, sold him into slavery –
this youngest brother still refused to hate.
Perhaps we too, with spiritual certainty, can learn
to trust in God’s design, deliverance, and love. Our
Father’s grace will keep grim moments and uncharted
journeys free, revealing sure and tender ways He
speaks to everyone and leads us safely home….
Late into our first fall together, the white space around her poems started bothering her. She would cut and cut and cut to within millimeters of the edge of each stanza. She would pull pages out of books of others' poetry, even her beloved hymnal, and then slowly trim them down. One day she even started ripping the photos and remembrances out of her wedding album before we could protest.
This was just one of our devastating "new normals." Why would mom destroy those pictures, that beautiful handbound book? The hymnal that was her comfort?
I wondered, as I did during much of her descent: "What is it that she sees? What is it that she needs?"
Maybe it was that she wasn't able to create anew. But "editing" was something she could still do, - the actual physical changing of the space and words a literal way to satisfy.
We joined her. Chopping poems, re-typing and re-printing ones that upset her. Changing words that no longer felt right to her. I started printing her poems on colored paper, thinking the margins wouldn't be so shocking, that the colors would make the work feel new and exciting.
Yesterday I found the carefully cut, pasted, cut-some-more, scotch-taped, amended, and stickered "Each Joseph." She'd even colored in the bits of white sky that peeped through the purple on the bit of postcard she'd collaged in.
Of course she'd added: "Please return this if it doesn't appeal." (Ever prepared for rejection)
But I hadn't noticed her addition at the top until today:
"I'm trepid Joseph, Far from home."
Only my mother, my beautiful demented mother would have come up with that. Still trying to find her way home, still playing with the words she lived for.