It’s been over twenty-five years since I wrote these lines:
The doctors invited me to be still.
Then the X-ray revealed
one of van Gogh’s sunflowers
dying inside me, just beneath my ribs.
Not enough sun, they said,
prescribed antibiotics and suggested
lemon juice to ease the pain.
A few of the remedies worked; stillness came, then awakening. Just beneath my ribs, the sunflower lives, and so does the everpresent need to be still, to suggest bright petals and brave possibilities. Thanks, Vincent for this yellow.
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.
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 . . . .
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.