avatarTheodore McDowell



The Wife of a Brain Injury Patient

I touch him deeper than the echo of the person he used to be

Photo by Hayden Scott on Unsplash

I touch this dismantled man deeper than the echo of the person he used to be.

I love him most when I lead him into the house from digging in the earth of the overgrown garden, his fingers cut by thorns, his shirt rimmed with sweat, smelling of salt and weeds.

His stiff body sits in front of sparking flames, staring blankly into the mystery of fire.

I go to his chair, his forehead anointed with dirt, his cracked hands jammed between his thighs.

He used to control his world with brilliant words and stride through his domain with such assurance.

Now, he tosses words into the flames like kindling wood. Now, I unlace his boots and stroke his swollen ankles and feet.

Then I open his coat and press my face into his chest, feeling his entire day, taking it inside me — the wooden rake in his hands, rearranging autumn leaves fallen from the Japanese maple, his fingers scooping at the dark earth, his random words scraping at the remaining red leaves clinging to branches like memories.

I feel it all: the wind piercing through his coat, those hands awkward as clamps, the white fire of a simple and confused consciousness blaring in his eyes, the aimless wandering back and forth among the shrubs, the soft pleas for the warmth of my guiding hand.

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Brain Injury
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