Wait, What? A Survivor’s Notebook



I’ve got that thing where you ask yourself if you’re to scale in their world, or merely in yours. 


The ward is crawling with spiders. I would never harm them. How could I? Approach a spider and she looks at you like you stuffed her clothes in a garbage bag and flung it on the porch. This applies to everyone here. 

Observations 1

The walls here are a deep shade of abdication. Nurses help you in the form of questions. An extra bed sheet means you’ve won. Swear words batter the lights like moths. Nescafé is for closers. To sleep you count cigarettes prancing over a hedge.


The doctor wears one brown sock and one navy sock and I miss the easy perfect things like the smoothness of a dashboard or the vamp of a brand-new pair of boots.


In hospital the seasons work in silence. Here is winter, now on night shift, gingerly applying a gauze of snow to a patch of burn-coloured leaves. 


The patients eat looking down because, in their mute way, they are saying they’ve forgotten what type of music once made them happiest.


The pills make your problems go away by dumping them in the blood to scud toward a gyre, where they’ll gather in a raft until the mermaids who call your brain a sea all wash up ashore.

Observations 2

The puzzles in the lounge are escaping one piece at a time. There is a distinct lack of pheromones. The Salisbury steak is weaponized. Psychiatrists work for 15 minutes a day. 


The street accepts me like a fed-up lover. One who finds me snoring when my body should supply the answers hers demands.


I haul my bloat onto public transit where people in ratty parkas chat me up not knowing I once was magnificent, like the centre spread in a Vietnamese cookbook. 


A feather boa dragged by a dog like linked sausages. 


I wake up in the night, my heart a raccoon on a bungalow roof. Carbohydrates are the answer. Eating a sandwich over the sink, I am replete with strange delight, like a thistle in a graveyard. 


Brief counselling therapist: cellphone made of lumber, asbestos lollipop, anvil with wings. Support cheque signed in lemon juice. Manatee with a Rubik’s cube. Marzipan bank vault, scuba tank for a chipmunk. Zero-stakes activist. Guy leaning on a shovel to watch his crew fix a pothole with a tear-sodden Kleenex. 


I no longer measure time with calendars but with flavours. I know it’s spring because the clementines taste like exiled generals taking their granddaughters to the zoo.