Losing the Summer
Winter enters the body and it collapses,
the blood cells attack, the fever leaves
the brain with its patterns of coils
and discs like a red stovetop,
an alphabet of rivers and branches.
This landscape, contoured for activity, settles
into animal hibernation,
while remnants of ancient languages howl
from the hospital monitor.
Like dried sap on a tree,
crusted, yet viable, a small scar has left itself
after the coma – such a thing is not
a deformity, but a bud:
a seed replanting its succulence,
an isthmus back to the world.
Come see me at Byrd’s Books on Sunday, June 3rd for a Book Club discussion of The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory, which chronicles that lost summer. “Losing the Summer” is from Four Blue Eggs, which was a finalist for the 2013 Poetry Prize from Homebound Publications. The 2018 Poetry Prize is now open for submissions.
I have to admit that before the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport Connecticut invited storytellers to participate in their first PechaKucha night, I had no idea what PechaKucha was. It’s simple to describe: a slide show of 20 slides which progress through 20-second intervals–so a story in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. More than the slideshow, PechaKucha is an opportunity to gather with others and share. Developed by an architecture firm in Japan, PechaKucha translates loosely into “chit-chat” in Japanese. It’s taken off worldwide and the U.S. is starting to catch up.
I was happy to participate as the Barnum Museum hosted its first (of many) PechaKucha nights earlier this month (May 9). I told the story of how writing helped me recover from a coma–a story that I share in more depth in The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory.
Annotating the Self: Writing and Recovery (or click the image below)
I’ll be at Byrd’s Books again on Sunday, June 3rd for a Book Talk about The Comet’s Tail. Support your local independent bookstore and join us.
From Little Bound Books and Homebound Publications: The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory.
About the book:
I do not remember the tubes, the tests, or the icy cold of space.
I do not remember losing six months of my life.
At age nineteen, Amy Nawrocki returned from her first year of college, scribbled a few notes in her journal, and took a terrifying summer trip. She remembers one night of disorientation, then nothing until Christmas, when awareness slowly restarts. The Comet’s Tail is the story of these missing months: the seizures and fever spikes, the deep nothing of coma, and the unexpected, dramatic recovery. Memory is recreated around EEG transcripts and doctors’ notes, family vigils and blurry Polaroids. From her unique perspective, Nawrocki investigates the connections between memory, trauma, and identity. She illuminates what it means to truly return to consciousness in this extraordinary memoir of illness, healing, and writing over the blank pages of our lives.
Here are a few lines from my first college journal (blog exclusive)–a college girl’s perception of herself, nine months before the galaxies would close (for a while):
I’m cold. I’m lonely. I’m an elephant in a supermarket. I need, I need, I need. I’m a very selfish person. I’m so inefficient. I can’t do anything. I think I’ll write a poem now. Drink lots of coffee, and be a night owl tonight and write a brilliant essay about Achilles, godlike swift runner. . . . . I’ll look for that wacky pigeon again — the half dove, what a shame to be half a dove.
I am not a delicate flower. I am not
the likeness of a leopardess, I am the energy
of a tidal wave. I am the catastrophe of a raindrop.
I am an orchid, I am a lily. I am a life and
death without a mask. I am a fork and a forklift.
I am rubbish of apple seeds. I am mother, I am
earth, and when I speak, I call up windlessness
and ask its name.
~Journal excerpt from March 1992, featured in The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory, an exploration of my journey into an out of an encephalitic coma.
Pre-orders of The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory have shipped! To celebrate, here’s a snippet, teaser, foreshadow. The memoir chronicles the summer of 1992 when I slept in a “profound coma.” Leading up to that illness, I kept a journal–mostly ramblings of a first-year college student, a few loose drafts of poems, many musings on boredom and loneliness. Process work.
But looking back, there are passages that spoke with soothsaying eerieness. For example:
09 March: I found boredom to be sleepless
under a rock of drug induced comatose crustaceans.
This, I’m sure is also the place where the
meaning of life finds nutrients but alas, once
comatose always comatose . . . When I have
children I’m having them in my brain.
The journal entry is from March. In June, everything would shut down and become a blur. Read more . . . .
About two weeks to go until the official release of The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory.
Though today is the last day of the month, my 30/30 journey of writing one poem a day for 30 days ended yesterday. Click here to review the month. Thanks to Tupelo Press for all their support, and a special thanks to all those who sponsored me with a donation.
Minus the town square and the tavern, (or rather in honor of virtual squares and literary ephemera) here is The Comet’s Tail’s first offering.
Homebound Publications and Little Bound Books will release the Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory and ship pre-orders on Tuesday, April 10th.
Please support independent publishers like Homebound Publications and writers who want to share the tiny particles of our lives. Join the conversation.
We’re up to day 24 of this month’s 30/30 Project. Donate to my campaign. I need just $5 to reach $500.