I pause on the bridge over the Bog Burn, to stop and watch the river.

Behind me, the world moves past: people cycling, running, walking briskly with dogs, or trudging home with shopping. I don’t know if they wonder what I’m looking at, I mean, it’s nothing special – a slow moving stretch of water, slightly brown coloured, it’s hard to know how clean, and I shouldn’t really call it a river at all.

But still, if you squint, or somehow soften your gaze, you might notice the way the hawthorn tree is drooping, laden with blossom, drifting right down to the water, so the blossom is touching the surface, and connecting with its own reflection.

Tree, blossom, surface and reflection on this slow moving, brown coloured water, blend, and merge into one.


It makes me think of a painting.

It makes me think of a poem.

It makes me think, I need to keep refusing the operation.



The picture is from a few weeks ago – the blossom is long gone now.

The inspiration is this poem, Monet Refuses the Operation, by Lisel Mueller.  It begins like this:

Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,

4 Replies to “Refusing the Operation

  1. I love that poem, thank you! It made me smile as it adds to my understanding of old age and what are seen as negatives just because someone’s senses start to take on the softer aspects of life. And yet, we want to ‘fix’ them.

    • I’m glad you like the poem Jackie, it’s one of my favourites. I often feel pressure to see things more conventionally, whereas art, curiosity, poetry, mystery and truth lie somewhere in the opposite direction.

    • Hello Jean, so glad you liked the words, photo and poem! Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

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