I Am

A poem by the Rev. Elinor R. Greene, performed on March 4, 2007, by dancer Lisa Lovelace.

Posted: April 08, 2007

What determines being human? Is it thinking? I think, therefore I am.

These words pose a dilemma for me because I have extensive brain damage as a result of an automobile accident many years ago. Fortunately my mind wasn't harmed in the accident, but nothing can restore the portion of brain which was lost. Indeed, thinking is the seed of being human, but what is the mind without a body?

I am the tightrope walker, balancing between two worlds:

I am the prisoner rudely captured --

The anxious rider on an unpredictable horse.

I am the athlete and dancer who moves with expert grace.

In my case it's as if I've lost a limb, only worse, because all my muscles have been affected with rigidity, including those attached to my eyes. My eyes are spastic too. So I

have learned to adjust to my new situation. But blindness sometimes seems a small matter compared to other conditions about myself with which I have to cope.

Woman with partial sight and whole vision

in my little craft caught in a storm

pitching and weaving on Baptismal water

holding fast to my rudder, which appears to be God.

I can think myself to take a step, and sometimes I walk forward. Other times

my body simply refuses to cooperate with my mind. When this happens my feet won't budge. The harder I try to move them the more recalcitrant the rest of my body becomes. What used to come automatically no longer does.

I am the current which flows between the body and mind

electric synapse which gaily leaps and bumps headlong into a cell

enthusiastic energy captured against her will.

A romantic, somewhat elegant and passionate butterfly

paralyzed in the Devil's Spider Web.

   Sometimes I want to yell with frustration. Other times the absurdity of my situation strikes me funny. Picking up a glass of water takes an inordinate amount of concentration and energy. If I don't pay close attention, I could very easily sling the contents over my shoulder. Sometimes when eating a sandwich, I find my hands slowly but surely squeezing the bread between my fingers. I am powerless to stop them. They make me feel unreal as if I were half a person. Am I myself or a monster, A stranger living in my body must have hurled that water on the floor. I simply wouldn't do that sort of thing!

I am the speaker with soft, husky voice;

the corny contralto singer with deep love of music and song;

courageous and upon occasion funny, flexible yet incorrigible,

I am the woman who laughs.

So much of my sense of self before my injury was wrapped up in what I could do physically.

I was an athlete, a singer, an actor, a leader in school. I had it all.

Now I am held captive by a badly damaged brain.

I am anew, unique and crazily crafted mixture

of body and mind

of body and soul

I am the dark eyes and the smile ....

But sometimes in private, when I am alone, I think about my life before and after the automobile accident, and then sometimes I cry.

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