Excerpt from “Stroke Diary” by Dan Brady

Her hand is where it started.
First, reaching for the door knob,

or believing she was reaching,
but falling inches short.

Later, with the baby,
reaching for the blanket,

or believing she is reaching;
Her hand does not move.

Her right hand.
Her right leg.

Her right eye.
Her right side.













I call the doctor.
Describe. Ask.

The doctor
and my wife

speak in stereo:
Call 911.












The feeling
and the fear

and go.











When the seizure starts
I hold her down.

Half of her

She slams her wrist
into her chest, hard.

Her leg kicks the rhythm
of a heartbeat.











After, her greatest desire
is to pull the nasal trumpet

from her face. The nurse asks me
to calm her. Tell her it’s okay,

leave the trumpet in its place.










The ICU is cold
and dark in the evening.

An MRI shows
a clot on her brain.

The doctor points
to the back of her neck,

along her hairline,
behind her ear. Here.

Ventilators bellow slow air.










She’s the youngest
person here




You can read the rest of “Stroke Diary” in our Long Poetry Issue.




Dan Brady is the poetry editor of Barrelhouse. Recent poems have appeared in Artifice, Big Lucks, Everyday Genius, H_NGM_N, So & So, and elsewhere. He is the author of two chapbooks, Fossil Record / Cabin Fever (Flying Guillotine Press) and Leroy Sequences (Horse Less Press). He lives with his wife and two children in Arlington, Virginia. A few lines of “Stroke Diary” first appeared on telephone poles, fence posts, and street signs as part of IsReads, thanks to Adam Robinson.

2 responses to “Excerpt from “Stroke Diary” by Dan Brady”

  1. I can feel the pain and the fear. Very real.

  2. Fran Gage says:

    Wow, I abstract the clinical findings of the stroke episode for patients on a daily basis. This is a perspective that I do not read in the clinical charting. I felt this in my heart while reading. I felt the horror and fear of the unknowing in your words, yet the hope of recovery and strength. Awesome “Stroke Diary”

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