Weekly Write: “Stroke” by Robin Scofield


The last night he was marked
as a whole self, Jackie spent drinking,
smoking, and looking splendid.

But within the body, an occult signifier—
a bolt of electricity—arced across his brain,
and no one could sense the cerebral infarction.

They were out drinking as usual. He slurred
his words as usual, releasing the usual
university 101 liberal arts professor repartée

while mute blood vessels in his right
brain hollowed. The empty spaces struck
him down as though a lion

had stroked his cheek. One half of his face
stricken. His sleep was stuporous.
Neither thrombosis in the Circle of Willis

nor vascular constriction was visible,
but the lack of signal stood out the next morning
when he tried to stand up and hit the floor instead.

The half-self left to him he could not bear.
Stage left lost in his tangled neurons.
What signs he painted on his body

that last day, I have no right to know.
He died on Yom Kippur, his final atonement.
With his good right hand, he wanted to unseal

all vessels and veins to picture his defeat
on the wall that must be painted over
one too many times.

Robin Scofield, author of Flow (Street of Trees Projects), winner of the Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association, has poems appearing in Ponder Review, The Main Street Rag, and Mocking Heart Review. She writes with the Tumblewords Project in El Paso and attends the San Miguel Poetry Week.




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