Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poetry from the brain trauma center

Poetry is a weird kind of writing. I don't know what makes a person want to write it, but I do think there is something in a poet's brain that facilitates unusual connections between ideas and words and sounds.

I recently read A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. In it she recalls her life with her dogs and with her husband who suffers a brain injury after being struck by a car. It is a sad and humbling account of loss and the comfort people take in animals. What is most fascinating, however, is that after her husband's accident, he often says things that are strange and beautiful and, well, poetic.
"In the first weeks after his accident, Rich spoke in mysteries. It was as if he were now connected to some vast reservoir of wisdom, available only to those whose brains have been altered, a reservoir unencumbered by personality, quirks, history, habits. 'It is interesting to think that one could run farther and longer and perhaps find the answer,' he said one evening, drifting in and out of delirious talk. 'What would you get to?' I asked, eager for the answer. 'The allure of distance' was what he said, a dreamy phrase" (p. 17).

When his youngest daugter, Catherine, visits him in the hospital: "'Do you eat field mice?' he asked, a strange question we thought, until I realized that the first three letters of her name spell 'cat'" (p. 18).

Upon going down a hospital hallway for a CAT scan: "You always know you're in for it when you're going down a long hall with nobody else in it" (p. 22).

After the author tells Rich she loves him he says, "That's worth twenty hats and all the signatures in the world" (p. 33).

On living in a facility: "'I'm alone,' he says waving his arm down the hall. 'Hundreds of single beds,' he says, 'hundreds of single beds with old men lying in them with their boots on'" (p. 51).

"'You squeezed all those colors from fruit,' Rich observed the other day. I was knitting a scarf out of red and purple wool" (p. 62).

Believing his foot is going to be amputated, Rich asks his wife as she strokes his foot, "How much sensation makes a toe?" (p. 136).

"I feel like a tent that wants to be a kite, tugging at my stakes" (p. 162).

The book, like many I've read lately, also mentions monkeys. "Through this tube, which resembles a monkey's tail as it curls out from under the covers to the IV pole, they give him nourishment and medicine. The shape of the tube may be what gives rise to Rich's belief that there is literally a monkey in the bed. 'There's no monkey,' I tell him. 'Don't be so sure,' he says, lifting the sheet to peer beneath it" (p. 22).

1 comment:

Los Angeles accident attorney said...

I think you're absolutely right about the "connection between ideas and words and sounds". I was just reading something that talks about that on a Los Angeles brain injury attorneys website. The whole article is actually featured, it was really interesting.