Upon Working with another Traumatic Brain Injury a Daughter Rises

for Makenna . . . daughter, Celtic hounds’ tooth swimmer, goddess of fire

split second
like your birth
listening to me
still womb-huddled
maybe my booming
voice, a father’s whelping
call, a miracle of universal
labor, winched you out

split second
viral unleashed
sagging immune
system, his body
ravaged by chemo
the light in his
eyes, flipped around
brain swelling
your uncle journeyed
from microbiologist
to “daft one”
culled by total
cranial confusion
he mustered up
a 9-year old’s
glee: board games
cards, his whispers
fading light of

you his niece
holding court
as he tossed dice
went through
‘Sorry’ rituals
you learned young
fragility of brain:
air light water fire
wind from scattered
billions heaved
into premature death
you showed him empathy
but the empath’s
thread of prescience, too

do fathers really
tell daughters
their gift to life
are their orbs of emanating
rays, light soaked into
old epidermis shooting
into a father’s brain
corpuscle by corpuscle
more than daughter’s
DNA, but your wise
spirit, battered in ways
buoyant in other passages
split second light
turns inward, or
shuts half off
brain injury, traumatic
life shuffling
anything can split-fray
memory, spiritual continence

the father, me, holds
memory like grasps
hanging over jagged
edges, preserving
father for you
I feather memory
into rejuvenation
as gravity pulls
corpus closer
to the ground
from where you sprang


[photo by Makenna D. Haeder, Ice-Age Flood trickle, Spokane River]

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.