Excerpt from: I carry these birds in my hands

This myth speaks to strays

           Love seems more acute

           at the brink when just moments

           ago we were whole

           (even if difficultly so).

Between here, there & elsewhere, now & other-than I set out along switchbacks, travel down blind alleys, flail at near misses, stub my toes on stones buried in the ground. The narrow track runs back both inside & out littered with fragments of history, birthplace, geology, & family. What happened breaks apart, shape-shifts, mixes blood.

Here is a re-formed story, a rough mosaic made from chipped & hammered bricks glazed with blazes of color & held together by my own talk juxtaposed with that of strangers, like clay grout. The landscape is a nonsite, no true place, is some transitional space, the way uncertain. A question, a moving target, a blind fold.

A nonsite confronts the scale between indoors and outdoors, and how the two are impossible to bridge…What I did was go out to the fringes, pick a point in the fringes, and collect some raw material. The making of a piece really involves collecting. - Robert Smithson, 1969

           We live it though. It’s where the joyful meets the anguished O.

She is not delighted by unexpected visits

Facility tours. Doctors. Details. Lawyers. A litany of minor events. Set up to move from Toledo to Boston.

I get to Toledo before my brother Dan does. After a stiff hug at the door, she stalks back into the house her grimy heel flashing through the worn white sock. “Tú no te callas, te tiras por las ventana!” Since when does she speak Spanish? She’s pulled it off: another false recovery.

           After flickering

           the incandescent bulb shines

           nothing but false hope.

From a part of the brain being preternaturally elevated, but not diseased, the mind sometimes discovers not only unusual strength and acuteness, but certain talents it never exhibited before. - Dr. Benjamin Rush, 1812

She waits for me in the kitchen where she’s covered her cabinets with post it notes: “Don’t let them lock you up!” “I say when I’m leaving here!” In front of the dishwasher she poses, baby-doll blue eyes rolled up toward the ceiling, whispering & moving her lips, praying under her breath for my slow death. First you wish you weren’t; then you’re relieved you are. Adopted.

           Display both casket and sword with paper carps. - Basho

Like singed hair, dendrites shrink back. Axons sputter like matches refusing fire. Line by line, I struggle to recall that dementia drowns & defaces her.

           The Mystery Shack, The Biggest Ball of String; our childhood expeditions

           to local wonders die, fading into the eye’s blue hole.

The Blue Hole is noted for its clarity, vibrant blue hue, and enigmatic “bottomless” appearance…Floods and droughts have no effect on temperature or water level…The water contains lime, soda, magnesia, and iron, and because the Blue Hole is anoxic, it cannot naturally sustain fish…It was known to Ottawa Indians, the first historical record is in 1761… - Karl VerSteeg, George Yunk, 1932

(Once my favorite tourist attraction it is now off limits to the public.)


Toledo. Day two. Bird song before dawn. Kit bag: no hairbrush, toothbrush, mascara, blush, or eye-shadow. Naked hangers grin from the closet in a snaggle-toothed row. I stand in my University of Toledo T-shirt gazing at the sequential bare bottoms of dresser drawers, then go downstairs to make coffee filling the mug I’d bought in college decorated with a unicorn surrounded by faded pink & purple balloons.

[A]nd there was some old rags of mine lying in the cupboard and Andrew asked me if they was mine, I said yes but I did not care anything about them. She said “take them along & wipe your old backsides with them.” So you may know what a pleasant time I had of it, I am thankful it is all through with, she seemed to think the things were all hers. - Mrs. Mary E. Anderson, Toledo, Ohio, 1861

“Things just keep showing up.” She’s very cheery wearing my sweater inside out & brown eye shadow (hers is blue). In view of her methods for cleaning toilets, the possible fate of my toothbrush is something to think about.


Toledo, day three, I hear myself say, “What’s this rolled up in a diaper?” This. A fork. Shelved right between Bleak House & Moby Dick. Alphabetically. She’s losing it, dropped a few marbles.

The first toy marbles (clay) made in the U.S. were made in Ohio by S. C. Dyke in the early 1890’s…Some of the first U.S. mass-produced glass marbles were also made in Ohio, by James Harvey Leighton. - Wikipedia, 2013

Gummed-thread & featherwork take our months & years. Even one day shakes the etch-a-sketch swiping a few scenes clean.

It’s time to save it get it back get it right. It. The story. I write it to save my own damned life.

           The heart, a dull blade,

           slides off the pear’s smooth skin, turns

           on the grasping hand.

Laurie Rosenblatt is the Director of Psychosocial Oncology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. She is the author of In Case, a book of poems, and two chapbooks: Walking Home and Caught by Light. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals.