By David Allen

The other night
I looked at a mark
On my wife’s arm
And gave it a scratch.
“Just wondering if it’s like mine,”
I said. “Will it scrape off?
Remember the time you made me
Go to a dermatologist to check out
A mole on my cheek
And he said it was a …..”

I lost the word.
“The doc said it was not cancerous,
That it was just a body…. a body…”
“Barnacle!” my wife shouted.
“A body barnacle.
And I said I always thought
I had married a crusty old sailor.”

But, why couldn’t
I come up with the word?
I’m Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
Who’s that knocking at my door?
It’s Barnacle Bill the Sailor!

Late that night I replayed
The conversation in my mind.
Was the word loss a senior moment?
Maybe a chemo-fog event?
I’d read that years after chemotherapy
Cancer patients sometimes have trouble
With losing words, attention, thoughts.
“No big deal,” a friend said.
But for a writer to lose words?
B… Bar?
Bar what?
It took me a few anxious minutes,
Lying there late at night,
Searching for that one word.
B.. B… uh, Bar
“NICKEL!” the inner voice yelled.
That’s it. Barnacle!

In the morning I tell my wife
About the night’s challenge.
“But, I finally remembered,” I bragged.
“Bah…Bah …Oh, no, it’s gone again.”
“Just scratch the surface,” my muse said.
“It will come back to you.
It’s just stuck in there
Like a barnacle resisting
The scratch.”


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