Tuesday, June 29, 2010


One of my dearest friends had exploratory surgery yesterday. She's been told she'll be three days in the hospital and will likely have a painful, weeklong recouperation. I know it will be a while before she checks her email, but I still sent this picture to her this morning, with the wish that this freshlet of beauty, like the drops of water that speak to where we are parched, bring her ease and comfort.

And I got to thinking: freshlets. Little moments that catch the eye and heart, that may stop us and even turn us around.

Today, for me, it was going at 6:30 in the morning to the Coke machine at the pool of my apartment complex to get my daily kick-start of Diet Coke. The light was still new and the air was just cool enough to announce its presence. I hadn't even begun to indulge my habitual nattering that I shouldn't have so much caffeine, that I shouldn't spend the money on expensive individual cans, that I shouldn't. . . .

And there they were, these purple flowers whose name I do not know still clothed with remnants of the day's watering. I stopped and looked. "I have to get my camera." In the few minutes I was gone the light did not change, the droplets did not dry up. And I came back to see more clearly, to play with light and air and color and form, and dials and settings and exposures.

The bejewelled flowers were a freshlet, as was the interlude, as is something it stirred in me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cracked Egg

Fragile egg, cracked but not broken open. Hard concrete. Green grass that might have been a cushion but wasn’t. I select the picture, a recent one, not sure where it will take me, and list what I see. Then I know this piece is about my sprained knee—approximately 7:45 p.m. on Monday, April 19. Never let it be said that it didn’t make an impression on me.

My left big toe got stuck as I was transferring back into my power wheelchair. The chair and I—everything but my foot—were moving away from where I had been sitting. In those few seconds before the brain could interpret the knee’s pain as a direct order to remove my hand from the chair’s joy stick, my foot was pulled to the right side at about a 30 degree angle. And it hurt. It hurt bad, and all I could think was “gravel,” imagining as I did that the bones in my kneecap were being pulverized. (I fracture easily.)

911 call, ambulance and emergency personnel, hospital emergency room all night, where I find out that knees are governed by ligaments, which I’ve pulled badly, and that nothing is broken. “It hurts as much as a fracture at first but gets better faster.” I turn down the ER doctor’s offer to put me in a splint, saying I’ll wait for the orthopedic technicians in the morning, who put me in a lightweight full-leg half cast with secure bandages. Picky, me? Damned straight.

And almost two weeks in a rehab hospital, learning to transfer myself with a leg that at first spasms every time I move it, a leg that is clunky and awkward though finally almost pain-free. And that is the easy part.

Then I go home, where I cannot transfer myself onto the toilet with my stiff leg and so must use a slide board to get into and out of bed every single time I have to “use the bathroom” on a bedpan. It is tiring and it is awkward and I basically have to take care of it by myself. My home health aide was required to quit when I went in the hospital because she can’t be paid when I’m not in residence. (It took more than a month to hire a new worker.)

And I was lonely. After the rich “people broth” of the nursing home, having only minimal contact with people made the situation even more difficult. And it was hard, hard as concrete I might have said if asked. But I was only cracked, not broken open, and unlike Humpty Dumpty I was graced to be put together again. Though it felt so far out of reach at the time, I regain a sense of that vibrant green cushion.