Sea Skins

‘Word Flight’ by Sophia Wilson

I woke to hear the murmurings of a new language:
brainstem compromise, cerebromedullary
disconnection, de-efferented state

My brain
was inundated and turned to slosh
like plains after the flood’s passed through

speech swept away by torrent
vocal cords divorced from breath
expression marooned 
and I am now a silent island  

devoid of movement and of gesture
no matter how I muster will
to signal ‘stop’
or raise a lip-corner of smile

Monotony weighs in, a daily groan
Nurses flit. Fluids enter and exit via tubes
Medical students loom
dangling stethoscopes like rattles

I’m locked in, looking out
tracking the movements of others
who are teaching me
to employ eyelid-flutter as speech

I haven’t achieved competence 
with the new Morse – 
lid movements are effort-laden
my code, indecipherable

so I can’t tell them I’m leaving
that I’ll employ the words
crowding my head, aim their acuity
at the rot, dissect and redefine it  

I’ll fly out through the key-hole
if I have to

They think I’m wallowing in my own
but I am gathering strength
to soar 

( In memory of Vivian Wilson, honorary Māori chief and All Black, 1899–1978 )