Iris Jamahl Dunkle: Haven


Jamahl Dunkle recounts writing's role in recovering from an accident  @ The Whistling Fire.

Every square foot of pavement in Manhattan has seen blood at some time.  You can smell the layers and layers of lives in the earth that’s dug up when they excavate buildings to make room for the new.  My bloodshed began with the smack of metal on metal, the swerve of the struck car spinning and whooshing me up like a rag doll flying.  It began with a dislocation from my body.  When I flew, I felt time stop.  Life became a slide show: everything in slow motion, then black. When I woke up I was looking up at a strange man’s face, his eyes, his voice asking, are you okay?

Goldwater hospital was my refuge, my haven.  I remember my first day, walking in to the state run long-term care facility.  The first patient I saw was a woman in her 40s who was dressed in a faded housecoat, and who sat in a wheelchair in the corridor.  Her legs were the size of tree trunks, her eyes were as vacant as an abandoned building.  The Goldwater writers workshop was a core part of the New York University Writing Program.  Just weeks before, when I sat across from Sharon Olds and Galway Kinnell at the interview I wanted the job, but I had no idea what I was asking for.

Just weeks after the accident, I taught my first workshop at Goldwater.  I was still awkward on crutches, still black and blue.  I rode the flying trolley across the East river not knowing what to expect.

Image: Ruth Dudley-Carr at F-Stop Magazine

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