The Book of Vivian


Chapter 1: BP, 93/70

  1. I am slowly pacing the room; my hands are cupped like bowls—the blue and white antique china kind you collected.
  2. I am scooping you from the floor and the crevices of everywhere into antique bowls that look like the hands of a son.
  3. This is fragmentation. This is how I learned the importance fractions, the most important calculations of all, the math of mothers.  This is loss and the separation of parts from the whole.
  4. You are laying in a bed, face swollen, tube pressing your tongue, dried blood on the crest of your left nostril.  I wonder why you bled. Did you fall? Did you hurt yourself? Were you afraid? Were you thinking of me?

Chapter 2: 911 (or Nine One One)

  1. That is 89 numbers short of 1000, a grand. You are not grand in this moment, and that is not how I know you.
  2. You called them, unable to breathe, then unlocked the door.  Then, did you fall? Did you hurt yourself? Were you afraid?
  3. They left the coffee table pushed to the couch. I walked in to knowledge:  This is the place where you took flight, left the ground, descended to 98/70.
  4. Maybe it is ascension? I am so uncertain now.

Chapter 3: O2 Saturation, 58 

  1. This is a book about fragmentation, about fractions, pieces of the whole, parts, and that which is left. You are less than 100%  and you are descending rapidly.  Less than half, less than whole.
  2. There is a single tear trailing your right eye.  Do you hear me singing? I am singing your favorite hymn in hopes you can hear me. Tis so sweet … (But it is not).
  3. Your eyes are full of fluid and there is a river between us.  I am scooping up bowls of missing numbers to bring you to completion.  Gathering the waters of your flesh to keep for my treasure.
  4. Less than 50% of you greeted me at the door, a one armed hug, really.
  5. Your heart is drinking adrenaline unchased to keep it in pace with the rate of the river of tears; it is losing. There is a hole in the bottom of the heartbag out of which all of the adrenaline flows and now there is only a small operating portion … half a heart, but every bit of love…

Chapter 4: Kidney Function, 50%

  1. In the war of the organs, we lost half of the whole. This is a book about fragmentation, about fractions, pieces of the whole, parts, and that which is left.
  2. As a child you fed me kidney beans to give me power. Shall I give them back to you now? Do they work? Do you feel them? Are they rebuilding the fraction of the whole that was lost in the fray?  Is it there in the corner? Can I scoop it in my bowls?

Chapter 5: Weight, 140lbs.

  1. And you were once robust.  You were a great big woman of love. You were what mamas always are.  You were everywhere with me. There was enough of you to last a lifetime. Can I scoop you in my bowl-cupped hands?  Can I find the weight? You are weighing heavy on me, but you are so light and little and wasting.
  2. Can I feed you teaspoons of jesus verses, and will they fill you up and make you heavy again?
  3. Can I infiltrate your infusion with the density of the love I have that I am not sure you can hear at the moment in my weeping?
  4. You are so little now, but weigh so heavy on me. I am mashed to inexistence by the weight of my memory.
  5. Did I tell you I love you enough? Did you know that I love you, and how much? Did you believe it? Did you know that  I forgave you for the childhood that wasn’t everything children imagine childhood to be?  Did you mean it when you said you just wanted me to be happy even if it meant happy with another man?  Did I make you proud?  Did I make you privately cry?  Did I did I did I did I did I did I did I…
  6. This is the weight I am lifting that will make me heavy-hearted but will not make you stronger.  You will not get stronger.

Chapter 6: Hour 11 of 24

  1. I am waiting for Brother to arrive.  7 hours on the highway. We know.
  2. The eleventh of hour of 24 is nearly halfway. You are nearly halfway. You are gone and my bowls are empty. I know.
  3. We will take the tube out of your mouth at the 15th hour, 15 of 24.  Will you be miraculous? Will God do math correctly?  Will he fix the fractions?  Will he carry the one?
  4. We fulfill the promises of sons, of which there were 2—sons and promises.
  5. (1). You will not linger in fractioned form.  (2). You will not depend on the assisted math of machines.

Chapter 7: 11 (Eleven) Bodies Breathing

  1. They are standing in imperfect solidarity in a semi circle; not even enough to surround you. 12 would make it even, this is odd. This has been about fragmentation, about fractions, pieces of the whole, parts, and that which is left; about losing.
  2. We are about to lose.
  3. This math is fucked up.
  4. I stand in need of more.
  5. Even if I pour my bowls onto the bed, there is still less.
  6. There is still blood at the crest of your nose.
  7. Your tongue is twice its normal size.
  8. Your face is fuller than ever.
  9. All the numbers are draining themselves out through invisible tubes connected to a reservoir of flesh in an unseen place.
  10. You are becoming less all the time.
  11. We are singing songs of benediction.
  12. Only part of you is left with us.
  13. There is no more air left to breath.
  14. I am zero sum.
  15. You are gone.
  16. We are weeping still.


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