Day 670 May 3, 2022

How Reading Changes

Reading Oliver Sacks 
now elicits equal parts 
awe at the human mind, 
and fear of the frailties of our bodies and brains. 

How can one write but not read, 
reimagine letters on the pages, 
street signs in New York
as Cyrillic or Korean. 

It makes one wonder 
how much of our perception is imagined, 
a glitch in the system?

As a child, my imagination was as vivid 
as yesterday’s memory. 
I could imagine tragedy befalling our family, 
the absence of a phone call 
after a burglar alarm at the store, 
the late arrival home. 

Imagination thrives in the absence of agency. 
In the absence of ability to do anything, 
the mind creates everything. 

In the twilight, 
I spy the neighbors trees composed entirely of flowers. 
I remember the poet’s tree festooned with blue bottles. 
I remember Uncle Sam’s dogwood split by a bolt of lightning 
at the tail end of a dinner party. 

Sometimes the mind is like sorting porcupine needles by size, 
satisfying and intricate, 
sharp and barbed. 

Imagine each of our capacities if our minds were whole and intact. 
Every injury 
one less language, 
one less instrument, 
one less name recalled from the high school photograph. 

The mimetic finds joy in her existence, 
not sullen, 
not sallow. 
The days are each a gift of existence. 

I form words in my mouth like butterscotch candies, 
savoring the sound and meaning, 
the story I tell, 
the story I do not tell. 
I imagine conversations that do not happen, 
the secrets I might spill, 
the truths unuttered. 

For now, 
robustly frail, 
I wait, 
like the season lottery ticket holder, 
like the expectant hen, 
like the naked dog, 
for joy, 
for what comes next, 
for a small piece of cheese.

A pocket photo.


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