Beyond my kitchen window, grey skies
crumble like clinker over empty fields.
The scarlet willow bends in the easterly,
branches stripped naked like veins.
Crows smudge charcoal on the horizon.
Indoors, I inhale recycled air and open
my liquid crystal display. Your face bubbles
expectantly, cornered. Behind you double
doors slide shut, a TV grumbles. You hold
a Bugs Bunny mug, ‘What’s up Doc?’
Alone in my hospital room at night I watch tiny particles of dust and fluff swirl beneath the reading lamp. They say dust comprises of dead skin cells, we sweep them away when we clean, removing all trace of our former selves. Our cells are constantly reproducing and every seven years our bodies regenerate anew. Your body is repeatedly recycling itself but not your mind. Your mind is an entirely different story. Our brains become less active, neural pathways die, our memories fade and disappear, we lose skills and alertness, sometimes we even lose our sense of self.
But back in my mean small room, Ward 3A. I’ve been here fourteen weeks now. A reluctant patient, more like prisoner. So every night I sit, sleepless and thoughtless watching the dust and wondering if these are particles of the old me, a shedding of my past life. Occasionally moths enter through the open window and dance wildly in the pool of light, their fragile wings clinking against the electric bulb. Blinded and bewildered they circle. In the morning I find their wispy bodies spent and shrivelled on my sheets.
I woke to snow this morning and a strong sense of silence and isolation. The snow muffled the sounds of traffic from the village and I felt like I was on another planet. Looking out into the pristine garden I recalled my childhood excitement at each snowfall. I opened the bedroom window and gathered a hand full of white from the sill. The cold made me feel more alive. Years ago I had a collie-cross dog called Floss who loved the snow, ploughing through it with his head down snuffling and snorting, rolling around in a frenzy. He would return home eventually with tiny snow balls dangling from his long hair, thawing out all over the house and leaving puddles in his wake. Cats are far more sensible. Nadia went out warily, making staccato steps as the snow stung her soft pads. She left a delicate solo track across the decking where my green Buddha looked on serenely.
“I do not dispute with the world; rather it is the world that disputes with me.”