The body is / not encountered as / belonging / but outside — humid, bright —
waded / through daily. The outside / always presented numerically / with caution.
Fear, brought from / elsewhere, observes / what doesn’t move: / pavement, trees, fields
between. / Places eyes inside / this new place / littered by the rinds of whatever / else has
opened / or dared.
The car idles in the lot. / A cloud passes, and / customers, now witnesses, / forget the
auguring wind. Are you—? they ask. Who, with sight, / approaches and questions / this?
We have to do that one / again says the technician through / a microphone. It’s the last /
one. Don’t you want / a good picture? Hold / still.
Wired restraints push / eyes toward the angled mirror, as / my skull, barely visible,
slackens — or / was it the body, half- / naked, outside the frame, that ruined / the last
The night I had my first / seizure — alone, reading / Walden: I require of every writer / a
simple and sincere account of / his own life. The machine / clicks. I got up for water and
woke up / on the floor.
For an hour / I keep myself, gowned, inside / the rented space of a lobe. The ending is /
a picture of the brain / they want.
All done. She walks / through double doors, extending / gurney, removing / this device
that kept eyes / oriented and body — / until the end — blinking. / The clicks / stop.
Please do not tell / my mother I insisted / on driving to work / today. (They have
suspended / my license.) Even with / a simple commute, I am told / it’s dangerous to try
and please / the old habits.
At work, an article sent / over gChat about / seizure dogs, another / I read over / the
afternoon: “Drone Form: Word and Image at / the End of Empire.” Recently, at / a
wedding, a friend made a joke / about drones / I can’t remember. / They are helpers,
protectors, / and service providers, begins / the article under a puppy’s photo.
Forgetfulness, like / his joke, is a side effect of / the first prescription. Drones / signify
the end / of empire in two senses: memory, / as ending, and / telos, as / purpose. Hensley
quotes Arendt: rule / by sheer power comes into play where power /is being lost. Some
dogs learn to lie next / to someone having a seizure / to prevent injury.
The drone, according / to Hensley, is a regime of figuration, a modality /of thought.
When I wake up / sight, incorrigible, questions / the kitchen, passenger seats. Some call
their dog / an extra set of eyes / and ears.
I tab, / blink. It is so hard to remember / anything, or to concentrate on the first / moment,
this new problem of representational / capacity and who —
now — fetches / the water, discusses how long / it lasted, what it looked like. / The first
seizures I hated this uneven sight, / how even my friends failed to ask / what have I seen
inside, as if / this power to narrate another space might kill / the subject of its narration,
or, / at least, quiet the dogs.
I was repairing a desk for a fifth grade class / in the morning. Using an allen wrench, / I
turned the legs out as the science teacher condescended / a drill would be faster. Why /
do I remember his tone, the blue sweater / I wore, how the children sounded / when I
woke and tried to stand / as my principal walked in? With the nurse, an / assistant
principal: are you / epileptic?
I’m on the floor. Most desks / are broken. Blink. That’s not — / They interrupt: Don’t be
stubborn. Wheelchaired to / the elevator, Nurse asks if the seizures happen / more often
at morning or / night, as if hope was / a cognitive process or function of / the bloviating
memory. Down the hall, I hear / the principals ask the teacher how / it looked, was there
much spit, if the kids will be okay / today.
I’m not sure, I say, entering / the elevator. Maybe the floor is broken, / or morning
happened down the hall, and / seizures are not / stubborn. Or the process of children
asking / the memory to try and stand, more often, nurses / the wrenching, principal
condescension you wear.
Ping. / Doors open. We’re going right down / the hall, okay? Passing / windows, fail to
stand / and walk out or, inside / the dark conference room, repair the sound of
Three more, I explain to my neurologist: while / driving, at dinner, working. All
witnessed. / Scribbles. He says we need to be more / aggressive. Butwhat about the
migraines, / my concentration? I am given new prescriptions / for Zonegran and Aptiom,
“cleaner” medicines, and told / stop taking Topamax / today.
I quit reading articles at work / because my vision blurs, a side effect / I mention as well,
but at night I read / The Brothers Karamazov. He writes / the prescription. This is the
hardest / time. Do you have / a support system?
Smerdyakov, “unsociable and / taciturn,” does not. Stephen Meredith writes
Smerdyakov’s /seizures lack the brief illumination / of Myshkin’s and contain only
excruciating / violence followed by lingering depression and / desolation. In The Idiot /
Prince Myshkin returns to Russia, epilepsy / treated, positively good. Scholars / always
frame their arguments with / references to Dostoevsky’s own epilepsy.
Biography / is not a system for this / problem. Time separates into / effects haunted by
brief witnesses. My neurologist says / take it easy, but I know easiness / made
Smerdyakov taciturn. Go have / some fun. Dostoevsky writes ecstasy is a gift of God /
and a great one; it is not given to many / but only to the elect.
Outside / I am clean idiocy, a new / container on this walk / to the pharmacy. If / I am
given anything / crossing the avenue let / it come not from God, / elsewhere, but from
light / everywhere.
Inside / the shower, new moments / of habit. Lather from rib / to ankle, study the lost /
weight, consider which shirt or belt could / fit for dinner tonight.
I don’t know / which leg collapses first. Curtain / falls. There is no time / holding the
soap, hair shampooed, to think / which doctor observed / I am unfit to live / alone.
The shower is / a pocket universe. Scalding water / intended for this rash — a new / side
effect — pools, as senses withstand / their size.
How does it feel / for my spine to pop against / the tub’s lip? Or eyes, inside narrative’s /
end, to belong to the shower?
Convulsions strike / head and shoulders against / the bathmat. Light observes the spine /
arch, neck in flexion. Eyes / blink, unfit to be / their own failure.
Disability / is a counterfactual narrative I write days / later. My body is the experience /
of isolation and desire for it. Why? my landlord asks / when I call to break my lease. I
can no / longer be alone. I must move in / with a friend. I can’t remember, / in this partial
light, what other habits / I would have.