Uhthoff’s Phenomena

The Coil
The Coil
Nov 30, 2020 · 2 min read

Poem by Tamara Sellman

here is a sun in my head. A dark star
sun. No blinding rays to shoot through ears, eyes
and nostrils, just potential heat stored in
Uhthoff’s famous furnace, waiting for a
cerebral match to trigger the pilot.

A hot shower can boil my internal
sun into being. To avoid stoking
new wildfires, I can only use the cold
setting on my blow dryer. If I am
cooking or baking, I have to open

the windows. Hot weather calls for dwelling
in shade, charging portable fans, packing
ice, spraying my skin with menthol, quaffing
pitchers of cold drinks to cool down my core.
Even on freezing winter days, hidden

heat ignited by my sun forces my
coat’s return to the closet and a crank
on the AC in the car. When my star
blooms, my skull sweats from the inside, a warm
oily wash across the dura, trickling

through the weave of the corpus callosum,
until it reaches muscle fibers, lymph
and arterials. I feel the star’s dark
new pulse as it spreads its hot lava flood
every time I try to find words. Nonsense

slurs from my lips, delayed by the struggle
to recall children’s names, cell phone numbers,
how to spell the word The. Meltdown evokes
a roaring tinnitus concert; even
the thrumming acoustics of MRI

cannot cancel out this racket. Meanwhile,
I will into life conscious breathing, think
through each step needed to walk five feet,
forget how to count my change at Safeway
because trust in strangers is easier.

To put the fire out, I succumb to naps,
wait for my star to burn itself to ash,
let the brain send crews to survey damage,
launch its post-trauma restoration ops,
and pick through the rubble for survivors.

TAMARA SELLMAN’s hybrid collection, ‘Intention Tremor,’ now available from MoonPath Press, chronicles five years of life following an MS diagnosis and includes her poem, “Uhthoff’s Phenomena.” Her sales benefit the Accelerated Cure Project. She works as a sleep professional, healthcare writer, and MS columnist.

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.