A Poem Read To Me Reveals My Injury

Published Categorised as Brain Health, Brain Power, Health, Personal

Ever since I got back from England, my neurodoc has been selecting poems and reading one to me at the end of each session. Although he speaks slowly and enunciates fairly well, I have to concentrate hard, keep my eyes on his face, in order to follow and understand. This week, he read out Because I could not stop for Death by Emily Dickinson. He didn’t tell me who the author was, just read the title and the poem.

When I asked who the author was, he asked me to tell him. I couldn’t. He told me. At the time, there was no memory, no connection in my mind. It was like I heard a familiar name but she and the poem were strangers to me.

I also had had trouble understanding some of the words. I don’t think it was entirely a matter of his pronunciation being different than what I would be used to. For example, when he said “gazing,” I thought I heard “grazing.” I’m not sure I understood “Immortality.” And midway through stanza 3, I wasn’t sure what he was saying and stanza 4 too. I got a bit lost. Stanza 5 took me the whole of it to be able to visualize. It was like an ah-ha moment when I realized the roof was at ground level. Still, I did not “see” that it was a grave till after I read the interpretation.

He offered it to me, but I shook my head.

Much later, I changed my mind, decided to look up the poem and read it silently to myself. I went, ohhh, as I read words that had escaped me when being read to me. 

I then read the interpretation.

And then I understood the poem as if I had glimpsed the surface of it but yet discerned none of what was underneath. 

Ramryge angels at Gloucester Cathedral, England

Brain injury grief is

extraordinary grief

research proves

needs healing.

And when I let a day or two lag and looked again, I knew I had read this poem when I was young and read poetry regularly, not just in school, when I didn’t have trouble understanding at least surface meanings.     

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