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-


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.


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.


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.