In Search of Metaphor: Ways to Describe Vertigo
you’re on a boat
finally you have your sea legs
but the ocean is rough
and the ship shifts
so that you lose your balance.
the world is an ocean
and there is no calm.
I’ve been on
this carousel called
Earth for over forty years.
I do not understand.
Why can’t you feel
at the touch of your lips
my cells spin apart and I
atomized by your love
I hold you tighter
I’ll lean on you but
Don’t lean on me
Unless you want to fall.
you’re walking on water
just got off an amusement park ride
had too much to drink, room spinning
Only worse because it never ends
And sometimes there’s nobody there
To catch you when you fall again.
Incomplete, the morning falls
into the same irregular rhythm
to which I woke up
two years ago and I
still hold a stillness first thing in the morning
my head secured in my pillow, I wait
in ignorant bliss until I must move.
This is it, the only peace of my day
where I can breathe belief into relief
and think I am free from those limits
that woke me up to this nightmare
unmoved until I must move and prove
the doctors doomed diagnosis right.
My head still held, I can hold onto
the hope that will fall away as soon as I
misstep my way from my bed and out
into another day of endless motion
but for now it is this, incomplete
the morning holds hope until I fall.
From my bed I dictate our needs, recite lists of easy to fix meals
Ticking the ingredients of recipes cooked from memory.
One cup of this, a teaspoon of that,
cook for thirty minutes covered then
uncover until the sauce bubbles.
I remind everyone to update the calendar
at eight one needs to be here and at ten
another needs to be there and at four
someone needs to be two places at once.
Coordinating doctor appointments, follow-up visits, tests,
prescription renewals, and ongoing pointless physical therapy,
I still have to remind someone the bills are due or coming up.
Two weeks later, I find my bird dead in its cage. It’s funny
the things my family forgets when I’m not able to take care of them.
May Cause Dizziness
If I move too quickly, toss
my hair out of my face, shake
my head “no” with vigor or look
both ways before I cross the street
triggers the spinning in my head.
The traffic helicopter flying low
the rhythm of the trance that dances
from my son’s bedroom, the unexpected
ring of my cell phone or knock
on the door will cause the ground
to shift and slip away.
Crane shots in movies, zooming
aerial visions of director’s zeal,
a bird’s eye view of a village,
and walking down the dimly lit stairs
of a theater make me nauseous and
keep me watching DVDs at home.
The weather changes—with rain
comes a heaviness in my head
that makes reading a chore and
wind can make a simple walk
a tightrope balancing act where I
stretch out my arms to keep erect.
The list seems endless and I refuse
not to test the my physical limits.
Practically every prescription and
OTC drug says “May cause dizziness”
which, for me, is redundant.
I keep hoping I’ll find a pill
that makes everyone else dizzy
that returns balance to my life.