By Jenora Vaswani
They say you don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it. Your health is one of those.
Go on, journey forth in life. Great things await you, so they say.
You potter through the mundane. Laundry. Groceries. Bills. Deo confidimus
when your knee goes,
when your eyes blur,
when your bones ache,
when your mind fogs over –
Diminished to a shell of yourself, the reality is far less musical than the words suggest.
You recall its Latin roots. The word itself was first recorded in the English language in 1607.
But what does education matter when articulating mere words beyond the barrier of your mind becomes an impossibility?
Also Latinate. First used in the mid-1500s.
You muse over that thought, but it doesn’t make it past your cracked lips.
You no longer see yourself in the mirror.
Not that it matters – the details once so clear are unclear, indistinct.
Trapped in your mind, you meander in circles. Your mind is a maze you have yet to figure out. A childish finger traced the backs of cereal boxes; an adult mind nudges thoughts along synaptic pathways.
Synaptic plasticity eludes you, but never mind, no matter. Then what are you? A thought. Intangible, unbounded, fragmented and –
A headache. An interruption.
Pain intrudes. How rude.
The needs of the body outweigh the mind?
Yet there is more. Memories slowed to a crawl, breaking thoughts apart, then a brisk walk past well-trodden ground, a life is laid out. Judgement awaits. Death looms, ever abstract, while the seconds tick by.
A child totters past; a parent reassures.
Don’t you worry, dear one. It’s just a mind losing control – nothing you need to fret about.
Swathed in pillows, the left side of your face twitches into a smile.
Perhaps you don’t have to be whole to contemplate the answers.
Photograph: Anna Gibbs