stroke: blank tub

In the bathtub, I curl up clothed, and cry. I don’t remember how to turn the water on. The buttons on my shirt take too much dexterity to undo.

A bath will make me feel better, I tell myself.

I try the trick. The one where I focus on something that is not the hardest thing. The one where I do literally only one thing at a time. No thinking or looking around while I do it.

I sit on the closed toilet and, one by one, my buttons come undone. I hang the shirt on the door hook, and without even consciously thinking about it, turn the dials to run the bath.

The jar of epsom salt opens easily, and I lift the toilet lid, and pour some in. Satisfied, I flush the toilet– only then understanding that I made another mistake.

I look at the jar and wonder if I should still use it in my bath, or if I should be more conservative with what I have. It is hard to replenish supplies when shopping is so difficult. I still can’t work. My pills are expensive. The tests aren’t done.

Expensive isn’t the right word for the price of the tests. I search for it.

Ditch, I think.

The tests are ditch.

The word isn’t right. I say the sentence aloud and hear how it thunks like bone sliced out of a poem. But the feeling is close.

The price of a test is a ditch you fall into. Ditch. Di- Di- de- de- deb-

Debilitating.

That’s the word.

The bath is full, so I sit in it. Unsalted and unbubbled, I see right through the water. The water is mostly cold because I never checked the temperature.

It makes me feel sad and small, but I am tired of feeling small so I imagine myself big, feet as large as sharks.

No…

bigger, I tell my imagination. So big I barely fit in this tub, even curled up. So big I accidentally snap words, because they are delicate things and I am fierce. So big I forget things, because it takes a long time for ideas to travel so far.

So big, you would call me a giant.

No.

A dinosaur.

I smile, and I don’t know how to explain that in this moment, I have no memory of always being basically a dinosaur. I have no memory of Rarasaur or the blog, or the thousand dinosaur pictures or memes. I don’t remember my dinosaur costume folded up in my kitchen. Or that every family portrait my late husband ever drew of us included me in a dinosaur suit. Or the children who stop me just to say r a a a w r.

I only remember the peace the visual brings me. I only know that when I imagine myself to be a dinosaur, I am not a small thing, curled up in a bathtub, forgotten, alone.

When I imagine myself to be a dinosaur, even when I don’t remember why– I feel there is a world of people outside the door who have chosen to be my neighbors, my friends, my best beloveds. And they will be there, even if I find myself at the bottom of a ditch, again.

And they will shout stories in, and the stories will echo in my ears. And they will throw down snacks, and I will never be hungry. And if I lose my memory entirely, they will remind me of the important things.

How my dinosaur tail wagged friendly. How I kept my words so tidily organized, I could always find the one I wanted. How I shared my loves so regularly someone would tuck them in my pockets even if I hadn’t remembered to bring them along.

When I finally step out of the tub, I notice my pajamas have a dinosaur pattern on them. So subtle, you might not notice if you weren’t looking for dinosaurs.

Ah, I think to myself, my mind unaware of the blankness. No wonder I was thinking about dinosaurs.

25 Comments

    1. Thank you 🙂 This one is a long road, but I feel the progress. Just a few months ago, I let the tub overflow and didn’t understand what was happening. So this. This is a step forward.

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      1. Btw, this Pam from the lifebus..I actually started my own blog. I think I have an email from you a long time ago about your boss before jail. I can’t seem to get into the email to tell u what was in there. We Go WAY back sister!!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I love your writing. And I read your book, Sack Nasty, in one sitting in a hot bath, and as it drained away, and as I grew cold to the air, still reading. It was striking in a way I can’t adequately convey. Love your writing and the person behind it.

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  2. Last night I was reading at a cafe in town. A poetess friend asked me to sit with her. She had read and commented on a draft of my most recent book.

    Then she confessed her awareness of her mind slipping away. She needs to make notes to go about her daily tasks. When my wife stepped away for some tea, she asked my wife’s name. Not odd, but then she said she had forgotten my name as well.

    She read a few poems and I trembled at her confusion with handling mic and podium.

    Then this morning I read this. Thanks.

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