A visit from The Healing Muse: 'Brain Fog'
Deirdre Neilen, PhD, shares a selection from Upstate‘s literary journal, “The Healing Muse,” every Sunday on “HealthLink on Air.” Neilen is the editor of the annual publication featuring fiction, poetry, essays and visual art focused on themes of medicine, illness, disability and healing. Read The Healing Muse Cafe Blog.
Today‘s selection is "Brain Fog" by Claudia Reder. Order your copy of “The Healing Muse” today.
Deirdre Neilen, PhD: Claudia Reder teaches at California State University at Channel Islands. Her poem "Brain Fog" attests to the hard work rehabilitation takes as a patient strains to return to her former state.
Between each read sentence,
I rest. I stare at my PhD dissertation
then copy the complex syntax of one sentence,
then substitute words. I imitate my former self,
mirror, the text with my new handwriting
sloppy as a ten-year-old's scrawl.
I think about Elizabeth Bishop's toucan
because I could use uncomplicated mirth,
and not think about the leak in the roof
which cannot be located, or the
sieve of my brain through which words fall
like tufts of feathers drifting off the planet.
Life collapses to one room surrounded
by books I love that I can no longer read,
my own Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Yet, having left the East Coast years ago
I can still summon the red sumac
when driving north on I-95, a mark of transition
between seasons and counties: the red berry talisman
letting us know we are nearer our goal,
it still grows on that bit of highway
and I am still driving by, hoping
for a glimpse of this berry,
hungry for something I can name.