Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Flying Lessons

Don't think for a moment that
you weren't born for this.
Struggle to bear up the canvas of this cumbersome life
feathered and scarred, weighty with the ache of bone.
This craft was meant for flight
but plunges earthward
in a dangerous dance with gravity; haul
on the ropes and pulleys, pray for wind
feed it slack then muscle in some tension
and keep the lovely cursed thing aloft.
You must. Do you see that blackness
on the horizon?
It is coming for you--but only there
can be found the silver lining
only there can you learn to fly.

Like Icarus, you have boundaries
that others impose; like him, you are alone
and must remember, always remember
that to reach too high--to soar the heights that beckon you
and bathe you in golden light--
this is death; exhilarating, enticing, maddening, glorious death.
No, you must struggle. You will never make peace
with the darkness, never know the silver lining
unless you struggle.
You will never learn to fly
unless you learn to stay alive.  Death
is a prize you must earn;
these others will teach you
they will tell you what to eat and when
what not to drink and why
what pills to take and which drugs to avoid
they will give you a bedtime and you must sleep then;
and all of these are flying instructions.

For you must fly this craft--
doesn't matter if you fly it well
but the thing needs a pilot and
if it isn't you
it will be these other people
and you will wish to the bottom of yourself
that you hadn't let go of the controls.
Because you'll want that silver lining.
You will want that black cloud.
You will want to live there,
because it is yours, it is your home, your life
your unwieldy craft to fly
your scarred skin, your heavy aching bones,
your brain that plays tricks on itself
and yet brings you in for a landing, one day,
with the sun still overhead, untouched,
and you here on earth, scorched but alive.
Come home, Icarus. Let your feet
touch the earth, for a time
before you seek the sky again.

KB © 4/27/2013

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Night Life

Back then we had begun to be like two trees
whose roots had intertwined
and grown together
so that you could not tell one from the other.

At night our limbs would reach and tangle
twisting together, pulling apart
in dream-winds that rattled the bed and
sent the covers sighing to the floor.

We ran through night woods turning over
giant leaves to look for sleeping dragons
and by the faint light of stars we found still pools
where tigers' eyes met and merged.

It doesn't matter now that you sleep down the road
or across town in another person's bed; or,
it matters to parts of me that have no meaning
at night, when they are shut down

and other parts of me are lit up like neon trees:
dendrites, neurons, cingulate gyrus, amygdala.
They reach and sway, they shift and murmur
their branches moving with the electrical storm

while the rest of me lies heavy, stilled and waveless
pinned like an endangered butterfly under glass.
Only my toe-tips and fingerprints dare
to reach for yours, fluttering across the empty sheets

lips treading the desert of the pillowcase and finding
that ever-present animal, grief, there to comfort me
with what sustenance it has: tears enough
for the morning, water laced with the lovely

tales of the night life, which is, I see now
mine and mine alone.

KB © 4/3/2013