I enjoy reciting my poems to others and have finally accepted that I have to read them from the printed page, however much I would love to recite them from memory. Funny thing this post-encephalitis life (over twenty years now) —the brain working well enough to write the words but not well enough to remember what’s been written!
You’ll be pleased to know I now spend less and less time screaming at the moon and very little wallowing in the once was me.
Rob, thank you for sharing this powerful piece with us! You've not only boldly articulated your personal experience, but given a voice to countless others afflicted by the same post-encephalitis challenges. To our Encephalitis411 community members, we invite you to let us know what emotions the poem evokes for you, or send in a poem of your own to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Normal for age
Good news beamed the doc no sign of dementia
hasn’t he read his own referral?
assess cognitive defects from encephalitis
oh yes pretty well normal for age
sudden memory loss normal for age?
I don’t want to be normal for age
I’m a chess player and he says wonderful
you can still play snakes and ladders
the beam shifted
well that’s all good isn’t it
was there anything more?
And that was that
you break a leg they give you a crutch
you break a brain then you’re on your own
if you’re normal for age
and the nine year old beats you at chess
and you pretend you’ve let him win
but you do look normal
and if another friend patronises you
we’re all forgetting things at our age
you’ll wring his scrawny neck within
and smile happily without
and retire early ‘to pursue other interests’
the job too demanding for normal for age
and hear them say not pulling his weight
not seeing the leaden lumbered uphill pedalling
ever paddling beneath
But my intellect is not me
my processing speed is not me
those one time overproud possessions
lost to a marauding virus
cerebral kenosis revealing
the real me is more a
friends family strangers
that lorikeet now
upside down feeding
and grandma’s hundred year old lavender still blooming
I laugh with you cry with you
and if my jigsaw pieces keep falling out
and if I get lost in once familiar streets
does it really truly matter?
a never expected silver lined gift of freedom
thank you I say
and shake hands with that old virus
or go outside
at the silent moon
or swallow the sweetened lure
in the lost and once was me