Don’t ask, I can’t tell, I can’t even explain. (2012)

She skated towards me wearing a red winter scarf. My feet were frozen to the ground. She waved her scarf in the air from a distance. It was the only thing with color in sight. Then it flew through the air and landed in my hands.

I clutched the scarf tight. I didn’t see but felt her fall. I didn’t see but felt life struggle to maintain itself, and fail. I didn’t understand. I never understood. I couldn’t make sense of anything anymore.

I never let go of the scarf. I unzipped myself and wrapped it around my heart. To keep peverything warm when nothing was certain. And then I cried until I thought I would never stop.

And I’ve tried to hide what is gone. But I’m not sure if it fools anyone. There are places we used to go, things I used to do, and they seem as dead as she is. Only sometimes I feel something squeeze my heart. And things pop into focus once again, in color.

I can’t tell you all of my wishes, because they are all in code. I can’t tell you what I can’t do anymore. It’s just one more room in the building, left blank and unexplored. I wish I was known for who I was and not for what I did. I can’t tell you what I’ve lost or what I’ve gained.

I can still see more than people want for me to see. I can still feel things deeper than people expect. What I can’t understand, I still can’t understand, only more. I still want things that can’t be named. I still can’t tell you any other way than this here, right now. What stays, what shifts, what’s changed.

If you wanted something different, I can’t help it. This is what you get. If you don’t understand, maybe it’s not here for understanding. I’m just exhausted, and didn’t have the energy to tell you the normal way. So I took what I had and I went where I could. And this is what you get.

Don’t tell me what I should have said. Chances are, I couldn’t. This is brain damage we’re talking about. It isn’t convenient. It doesn’t instantly vanish. If I could only tell you a tenth of it.

It’s hard to look around and see that nearly everything I used to pay attention to, is impossible to understand. It’s hard to know I can’t say anything unless it follows a particular pattern, like this does. I couldn’t say this part without all the rest before it. All the rest. Not something else. Something acceptable.

I’m scared and I couldn’t tell you why. It’s winter and the wind is blowing hair in my face. I’m glad I have the scarf around my heart. Otherwise I’d get lost in all the snow. Everything used to be familiar. Now there’s so much snow I can’t identify anything. Or not much of anything.

Please, something be familiar. Something be unfrozen. Something be other than white. I feel tiny, and I’m shaking, and I don’t remember anything. Not what I just said, not that you’re alive. In here, I don’t know you. I don’t know me. I don’t know anything.

But it always fades back. And there’s always more. And I always find myself writing this. To you. To who? To me. To they. I don’t know. All I know is I couldn’t have written this any other way. And maybe someone can even figure out what I meant. Because it’s in there. If you look in the right places, and with the right eye for the reality of one experience or another.

I am through, so I hope, sitting up all night with neon pink insects eating my eyelashes. Lying in a sunlit room with parts of me flying into the sky and back again. Night after night trying to avoid being flattened into a grid pattern and dissolved. In lots of pain. With lots of nausea. And I hope never to visit that realm again. A lioness carried me out.

Not that anyone noticed. They come in and change your IV bag and the hours between are left for you to lie still and drift into bizarre hallucinatory worlds that always have an undercurrent of hell on earth to them. They don’t check you for it. That’d take time. So of course they’re blindsided by my paranoia and then, after that was gone, sliding into the blank white snow everywhere. They only noticed what affected them.

I’m out. But it’s not over. And I wish I could tell you the things I can’t say or understand. But they’re just lost. And I get scared if they’re ever coming back. And this was the only way to tell you. So don’t ask it to be less roundabout or full of things that didn’t literally happen. Because right now that’s one thing I can’t do, can’t do at all. Don’t call this creative writing it’s the only damn writing I have at all this moment. And what I’ve done hurts like blinding colors in my eyes instead of a scarf warming my heart. If she’s dead or asleep, I can’t tell you, don’t know, but it hurts.

How To Stay Alive

I can’t struggle
As the world fades to white
Can’t remember the way my home looked
Can’t remember my mind
Can’t remember anything
It’s all faded out
Like there’s nothing left of the world

Sleep, the white tells me
Sleep and dream of nothing
Just rest, just rest
Soft and soothing
No need to think
To remember what is wrong
Just rest
Just
Rest
Shhhhh

*

Drowning
Was I drowning?
I can’t even thrash
But I almost remember
There was a surface
Somewhere

*

I struggle to surface
The ripples spread out
And out
And out

Mostly I float
But I almost remember
Something

Was
there
something?

*

The white fades to a dappled green
Above me
Leaves
Sky
And I remember
Now I remember
Now

I remember trees
I remember the clover
Tangled in my hair
I remember
Oh I remember
Everything

*

The world is
Green, blue
Brown, yellow, gray
The white
Has faded to these things

*

I can move my eyes first
Then my hands
Elbows, knees, and toes
Fingers grasping
At the memory
They could never hold

But

I can move
I can fight
I can live

(You Will) Never Die Alone

Don’t think I don’t see
Sitting in a chair
Next to my hospital bed
A lady with long wild silver hair
And a flowing white dress you can barely see
And light brown skin so paper-thin
That the light shines straight through

Don’t think I don’t know who she is
And what she is doing here
Waiting, keeping time
In case I have need of her

Sometimes when the delirium clears
I feel myself falling into her light
The closer I get
The less strength I have
To resist her in any way

I forget who she is
I only know she is telling me
To lie down and rest
But I am already lying down

And my heart feels so heavy
As it pumps my blood
That it wants to lie down and rest

And my lungs feel so heavy
As they move the air
That they want to lie down and rest

And she tells me to lie down and rest
But I am already lying down

It’s a long night
I fall out of bed
And an alarm blares
And a nurse picks me up
And puts me back in bed
Then I fall out of bed again
It feels like a surreal dance
Of UFOs and strange beeping noises
And I don’t know where I am
Or who I am
Anymore

The pain is unending though
And she tells me to lie down and rest
But I am already lying down

I feel myself floating closer and closer
And the alarm blares again
And the glowing lights of my IV pole
Dazzle my brain

And she tells me to lie down and rest
But I am already lying down

I sleep and dream delirium dreams
Of a forest on a hill full of holes
And even in the dreams
The pain is never-ending
Slowing time to a crawl
And making me wish for escape

And she tells me to lie down and rest
But I am already lying down

Next day, they force in
The biggest enema I’ve ever seen
I have more strength afterwards

And she tells me to lie down and rest
But I am already lying down

And I say no, I will not rest
Because it’s not time yet for me to meet you
I say I have friends who would miss me
Friends who are already scared
Because they can see you
And they know who you are
And I know who you are
And it’s not my time
Not yet
Not now

But I can’t fight yet
I can only vow that once I get stronger
I will fight my way back to life

My secret is I want to rest
I want to lay down
I want to give in
You are so beautiful
And so friendly
And to keep my heart beating
Is so hard sometimes
And it feels like your gravity
Wants to pull me in
And the closer I get
The more I want to rest
I’m afraid it will sound
Like I’m a coward
So for now
This is my secret
Alone

But day by day I pry my way away
From the event horizon
And day by day my strength comes back
And it gets easier to fight my way away

But Death turns to me and tells me
It will never be over
She will always be there for me

She says it like a promise
And then she makes a bigger one:

You will never die alone, my child
I will be there to catch you when you fall
Whether you die on a trail in the forest at night
Or in a room filled with family and friends
I will be there for you
I am always here with you
And you will never die alone
Because my love will fill you
With everything you need
And you will die
Filled with my love
Filled with my light
You will be who you need to be
And I will do what I have to do
For I will always be with you
And you will never die alone

[The events of a hospital admission, 8/25/2011-8/29/2011, for a bowel blockage and a very high white blood cell count.  I was delirious the whole time, but I’m convinced Death was real.]

Delirium

I am curled in a ball
Like a seed that has
Never been born
Nor had the chance to grow

Waiting in the netherworld
For what?

It’s impossible to know

I remember a time when I had fire
And the fire was the blood
That coursed through my veins

But now I am only water
Only floating
Only wondering where I am

I tried to get up and walk
But everything around me was white
I couldn’t get my balance
And when I fell
The falling never stopped

I climbed out of that world
Using only my fingernails
But the underworld still clings to me

I am a pomegranate seed away from you
Just one seed away
But it may as well be a canyon