Skeleton The skeleton of a blue whale, called “Hope”, is suspended over the hall of the museum, dominating everything. I marvel at its stupendous size, its delicate symmetry, its grace, and wonder what my bones will look like when I’m dead. I’ve seen the flares on CT scans, read the grim reports, but never looked up images of what ails me. This feathery, fragile, honeycombed beauty is not what I expected. I thought of growths, Elephant Man-like spurs and gross misshapes, excrescences. I cannot power through krill, mouth agape, eating as I go. I need to protect my frailty for fear of breaks, not even a dip in the local pool. But I can at least stop a while, contemplate these ever- changing patterns from dense to filigree, as ephemeral as spiders’ webs, frost fairies on winter windows, the tracery of bare branches against a grey sky; or notice how the frills and furbelows are so like those of underwater lives, the blue whale’s home, of sea anemones, sponges, coral. There’s an odd kind of strength in fragility, as powerful in its way as this great leviathan of our age. We spend our lives picking and choosing amongst what nature offers us, but we need, I need, to embrace it all. Cancer, making lace out of my bones, traces all the beloved patterns of my life.