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A Vignette from the Lyme Timeline

This week’s post is an excerpt from my unpublished memoir Starving to Heal in Siberia: My Radical Recovery from Late-Stage Lyme Disease, chapter one: Vignettes from the Lyme Timeline. It recapitulates a theme from One Me: Lovable As is.

Michelle’s Point of View, June, 2015: Jackson Hole, WY

And poets are what we need when ill, not prose writers. In illness words seem to possess a mystic quality. –Virginia Woolf, “On Being Ill”

I awoke from the stupor of sleep to see the sun rise in shades of periwinkle through the window, filtered through my fog.  I felt no trace of my characteristic delight in the sun’s beauty, though, nor did I feel my early morning optimism about the day. In fact, I wasn’t sure where I was, or who I was.

Then, I heard Dmitri’s familiar voice having a work conversation on his phone. There was an anniversary card with a photo of a boy holding a rose in his teeth standing on my bedside table. “Ah, Jackson Hole,” I sighed as I remembered.

As the sun rose higher, I felt mocked by the hope of its raspberry rays. For, there would be no horseback riding together through rugged rivers that day, nor would there be any vigorous hiking below the spires of the Tetons. Dmitri waved at me from the balcony, his Slavic grayish blue eyes smiling at me. Our long-standing code on vacations was that early mornings were for working, and we would meet up later; we had always respected one another’s work ethics. Only I had no work to do.

In largo tempo, I pulled on my jeans and sweater. I ambled down to the coffee shop on the corner, journal clutched in my aching hands. I sat down with an almond milk latté to scrawl out some words, desperate to chart my heightening sense of disorientation. With each sip and each written word, I tried to find my way out of the fog.

My brain, or is it still a brain,

and is it my brain,

is floating away in largo tempo,

as if on a lethargic current of air.

Strident calls from my psoas and lumbar

mute my thoughts.

All I hear is their crescendo through my back and limbs,

reminding me that I am in this broken body,

and it is mine.

The sun is rising in Jackson Hole

but I am in its shadow

for no raspberry rays shine in these parts.

Where have I to go this morning?

There is no manuscript to write,

There is no class to teach.

Replete with the angst of purposeless,

I make the attainment of coffee my primary goal.

Tabula rasa after two Master’s Degrees and a Ph.D.

How does one confront a blank slate, when

one’s brain has been replaced with a stranger’s brain?

When one’s brain is the other?

What can be written on a blank slate when one doesn’t have the

crittheory brain,

the music brain, the lit brain that one once had?

And this slate? It is broken.

The pieces have been saved,

but they don’t fit together.

Shards are missing.

Tabula rasa, on a broken slate,

a failed synecdoche.

Yet.

This discursive narrative

leaves me cleaving to a new handmade

axiom, “One Miche: Lovable As Is”

as if I were a used commodity. As Is.

Crittheory brain, music brain, lit brain, could not love this Miche

as is.

Too slow, memory faulty, fallible, unable to produce,

but broken-slate Miche with the other’s brain

has had it with these Sisyphean pursuits and echoes

“Lovable As Is.”

As is.

By Michelle Slater, PH.D

An emerging writer, I have written two memoirs: Soul Mate Dog: Becoming Fluent in the Language of Dog, and Starving to Heal in Siberia: My Radical Recovery from Late-Stage Lyme Disease. I am currently seeking representation for these manuscripts, and I am in the process of editing my first novel: The Lunatic. A former professor of French and Comparative Literature, I founded the Mayapple Center for the Arts and Humanities, a non-profit program for adult artists.