We Search the Horizon

A painting with a quotation from the beautiful mind Dr. Rita Charon (specifically, her book Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness)

We search the horizon … seeking ways to recognize ourselves and those around us, yearning to place ourselves within space and time (and infinity), dramatizing our stuborn beliefs that life means something and that we ourselves matter.

Rita Charon Painting

/michal

Self-Diagnosing the Human Condition

I took my pulse
To my childhood home
To expose it to old smells.

I breathed into the spirometer
Checking for my capacity
To contain the world inside.

I left your thermometer of happiness
Under my tongue for too long:
It has dissolved
And the mercury is leaking.
I guess I’ll never know how
Exactly
I am doing.

I took an oral history
By talking to myself
And clarifying the words that I didn’t
Quite catch.
Could I repeat that last part?
Hmm.
And how long has this been going on?

I tried to measure myself
To know who I am,
To have a language to express it to others.
But the numbers have failed me
And I am left with broken instruments
And healing bones.

/michal

The Wall in My Grandmother’s Living Room

One of the walls in my grandmother’s living room had protruding plaster bulges. I watched them dance and wondered which concert or country or book they represented in my grandmother’s life. I pictured them grow and shrink with each remembering of a memory as it came up in her breathing and travelling thoughts. What if she picked up that small souvenir violin she bought in Prague and in response, her wall would hum along with the battery-powered toy? What if the wall remembered her life as she did?

I pictured two sweaty painters in tank tops come into her apartment with buckets, starting to throw balls of wet plaster onto the wall. I pictured my grandmother laughing with them and smiling to herself. I thought how lucky the painters were to get paid to throw things at walls and change them and bring them to life. How lucky they were to laugh with my grandmother and cool down in her apartment filled with classical music and air conditioning.

My grandmother’s life has lost its breath, along with its music and memories, so what does her wall remember now? Has it receded into itself to be flat like all the other walls?

/michal

Excess

It is not a question of
Whether you were enough
Or not,
Too much,
Or not.

You exceed quantities, go beyond
Into questions of
Whether you were fitting,
My self with yours
Or not,
Fits too well,
Or not.

These are questions of relation
Which means there are two
Trying to be one,
Or not.

So question not your worth
For it exceeds my words
And consumes me
To propel me forward,
Or not.

/michal