The dialectic of trauma gives rise to complicated, sometimes uncanny
          alterations of consciousness … which mental health professionals,
          searching for calm, precise language, call ‘dissociation’.
          ― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery
i. Not here
the most direct route
to not here
is not breathing
the familiar sensation
over the head, familiar
constriction of the breath
that no conscious tactic
can overmaster
the body is not convinced
that now is safe
the body knows
how it survived
ii. Am/not
I climb into the walls
I live there
I ease into
the wood of the desk
my grit-grained heart is stilled
I am
if you rip me out into open air
into a living, breathing
writhing world
you must reconstitute
atom by atom
iii. Strange
the times when all familiarity
is stripped away
the street, the house,
the room — 
known to be known,
perceived as strange
whose hands are those
whose face
in the mirror, that terrified
fractured gaze
iv. Nowhere
that anguished month when I
was nowhere to be found
living with an anguished
until the day I wondered
if I had the wrong idea of love —
if it was possible to love someone
and hate them —
it was like unexpectedly seeing a friend
come around a corner
‘Me!’ I said
as the me that I recognised
re-entered my body
through my eyes

v. Oblivion
the night I drove
as if in a temporal bubble
no idea where I’d come from
or where I was headed
I was there in the car in a point of time
that travelled through space unattached 
to before or after, oblivion behind me
and before me, a testament to,
celebration of, the times
when oblivion was what saved me
vi. Here
the quickest path
to here
is feeling
so if you learned
to bury your feelings
get used to digging
get used to
the heft of a shovel
the delicate use of
an archaeologist’s brush
some of what you unearth
will be so old
it won’t look human
but these remains
are yours
get used to rage
that pounds through you
for hours at a time
get used to days
of nameless grief
get used to the body’s
joy, sign up
to come back to
the world you belong to