Sunday, August 9, 2020

Talking to Myself Thirty-Four

Talking to Myself Thirty-Four August 9, 2020

These years push forward their agenda,

but I’m not to know the details or the names.

My episodes might be tiny strokes I don’t

even notice. Or maybe seizures. Brain

doctors can name many things that can

go wrong in an aging brain. Yet most

days I’m tranquil, resting body and mind

more than I used to, sleeping or not

sleeping by whimsy. Sometimes I feel

jittery and make myself rest. One doctor

congratulates me on doing this well at age

eighty-three. Anther threatens me with

massive stroke. Yet I walk, I read, I try

to solve copyright problems for my new

book. Days pass. I muster my patience.

I still love a man who no longer walks

the earth. I type old manuscripts and

translate a Russian friend’s memories, 

amazed that he trusts me. I read old

books and study our failings and 

foibles, our moments of truth-speaking

and commitment to justice. No one

else knows the details either. Doctors

love to try their fancy medicines, but 

sometimes the cures are worse than the 

episodes. I want to choose how I live

my life–as long as I can. I haven’t

done too badly so far. 


Photo by Janet Wyatt in August 2020  Rose of Sharon tree.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Talking to Myself Thirty-Three August 2, 2020

Talking to Myself Thirty-Three August 2, 2020

I remember Schelykovo. You 
took me there that first week.
We saw the house, carefully
preserved, of Russia’s playwright,
loved and honored as our Shakespeare.
We went into a peasant house, sat 
on the benches against the walls,
visited the pool where the Snow Maiden 
died, wetted our faces for a long
life, if not an immortal one. Your
friend Yuri knew him personally,
was scolded and influenced by the
great man. And I, at an age you 
never reached, still have my
students. How much longer will
I influence them, scold them, and
praise them? In some ways I was
the peasant woman you longed
for but less submissive, more
outspoken. Someone to cherish 
while keeping your distance. Still,
we had those moments. We stood
outside ourselves, we communed. 
No one noticed at first, We sat on
rocks in a stream bed. You prayed
to a tree that it wouldn’t rain. Each
day I get older, but you stay the
same. Your life is trapped in
eternity, but we each have a wing,
and who knows where and when
we’ll be together again.

Photo of the front of Schelykovo by Vera Belikh. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Talking to Myself Thirty-Two

Talking to Myself Thirty-Two July 26, 2020

For Dr. Kylstra

I had agreed to another MRI.
The stroke doctor interpreted my 
two episodes as stroke. I didn’t
think so, but I wondered if he was 
going to claim stroke no matter
what this brain picture showed.
My own doctor, who always
listens to me, said she’d support
me, whatever I decided to do. My
body, my choice. I like that logic.
I wrote to the neurologists a letter
asking for a diagnosis to be 
explained, and no scare tactics.
Doctors make mistakes, too,
right? So I went into the tube,
and they took pictures. They did 
find the little bleeds in my brain
but said, “No sign of stroke.”
My brain’s behavior was more 
like Cerebral Amyloid Angioplasty. 
I wanted to shout, “See! I was
right.” They may never admit it,
but I know what to do. Trust my
own doctor and choose carefully. 
I won’t have this body much
longer. I may not make it to a
hundred, but I haven’t done too
badly so far. I’ll continue 
recovering my health, write, and
publish four more mysteries
and three more Russian memoirs.
Once we’re clear of the pandemic,
I can re-open my home to my children,
grandchildren, friends on this island
of peace and love.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Talking to Myself Thirty-One

Talking to Myself Thirty July 19, 2020

When the big doctors talk,
we’re supposed to listen.
They don’t tolerate arguments
and turn to threats. All I want
is a good explanation. I don’t 
believe my two episodes were
strokes. The doctor says if I
don’t take their medicine, I’ll
have a massive stroke and
end up in a nursing home. All
I’ve had so far–and nine
months apart–were a headache
and trouble speaking for a few
minutes. The big doctor doesn’t
listen to me. My friend suggests
a blood test for heavy metals,
reminds me of all the poisons
in the area where I live–from
coal ash dust in the air and
forever chemicals in our water.
And who knows what else?
It’s a wonder I’m alive and
mostly functional. They don’t
seem interested in my thoughts
or my realities. They’re scientists
not dictators. Their job is careful
diagnosis, not mindless threats,
not scare tactics. I won’t be cowed.
I’ll speak up. I always do, and
I can spot one abusing his power
in a flash. Isn’t the medical code
of ethics “Do no harm”?

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Talking to Myself Thirty

Last summer's zinnia with butterfly

Talking to Myself Thirty July 12, 2020

It’s the doctors that scare me. 
Not my own. She listens and thinks
for herself. I told her that I’d had
some bad experiences with
neurologists, the ones who study
the brain. So it was a risk, talking
to one, but she arranged it, and
I told him my story. He listened well,
but did he think for himself? The
stroke doctor was certain I’d had
a stroke. I’m sure I didn’t. If I’m
having strokes, they want me to
take a blood-thinner. If I’m having
a cerebral amyloid angioplasty, 
blood-thinners could kill me. I’m
not ready to die. My body keeps
healing. Yes, some loss of memory,
but a normal part of aging. I forget
words and names or where I put
things. Pretty usual for eighty-three.
Can I be right? The doctors wrong?
It has happened before. It’s my body, 
my health, and I have a stubborn 

streak, but let me be wise.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Talking to Myself Twenty-Nine

Talking to Myself Twenty-Nine July 6, 2020

Good things are happening, and some
more difficult. Wag and I have our
medicine, and are healing. I slept
twelve hours. Strange, but the
antibiotics kicked in. There is to
be an article about me in the
newspaper. I think back to the degree
I never got, but how I learned,
reading Homer and Hesiod, Sappho 
and Catullus, the pre-Socratics and
Plato in Greek and Latin. Two
professors believed in me and helped
me. The others were skeptical. Over
fifty years ago. These days I’m 
contained. Not even going outside 
without help. Not able to get my
dog in and out. My friend and I
prepare a flower garden, but no 
seeds are yet in the ground. One
hen keeps getting into the backyard
by flying over the fences. We want
to clip one wing so she won’t fly,
but she has disappeared. With
my eleventh mystery, I got finally
a rave review. Other good things
are happening. Should we take a 
risk that that winged chicken won’t
be back? Or trust the gods of 
chickendom to keep her busy
on her own land?

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Talking to Myself Twenty-Eight

Gladioli borrowed from web

Talking to Myself Twenty-Eight June 28, 2020

She brought in flowers–gladiolas,
my grandmother’s favorite, deep red
and pink orange, fallen over but still
blooming on our dining table. They
brought them  to me in Russia. I was
the guest, given the best food even
before the children. I was taken to
meet the local administrators. They
fed me huge meals, gave me vodka,
danced for me, sang katushki. We
walked and hugged our favorite
trees. Theirs were familiar. Mine
was new. Through trees we spoke
our love, calmed our spirits. You
tried to stop loving me, and I tried,
too. It went too deep.  Feasts were
provided, but I couldn’t eat. They 
showed me their gardens. They
grew their food all around their
house. In desperate times they had
fruit and meat. They were rich and I
shared their bounty, their aching
songs, their laughter. All these
connections. The same flowers;
different times. I still flourish, still
marvel at the treasures I’m given
that I never asked for.