Poetry

Sharing Silence

I’m alone” © Vinoth Chandar, 2011. CC BY 2.0..
I grew up around fire pits
and on long drives to nowhere
With conversations that always felt
we were leaving something important out

Bottles of bourbon hidden in trunks
and Altoids containers filled with prescription pills
rattling around in the bottom of my purse

We became experts at deflecting questions
At making excuses
Putting on faces and telling each other
“it’s not as bad as all that”

Always thought we’d ask for help
when it got bad enough
Until then
we’d just roll with it

Sitting on the steps at Jason’s apartment
we didn’t talk about anything
and pretended it was a choice to share a silence
instead of an inability to let each other in

And even when his mom found him
swinging from the rafters
of the house he grew up in
We told ourselves we were all perfectly capable
of carrying the weight alone

Mental Health

Cage

"籠の鳥 (Kago no Tori: Bird in the Cage)" © halfrain, 2014. CC BY-SA 2.0.
籠の鳥 (Kago no Tori: Bird in the Cage)” © halfrain, 2014. CC BY-SA 2.0.
I take a shower. Change the sheets. Wipe down counters. Try to find my footing and start wondering if I’d even recognize stability.

Sweating. Vision blurry. My breath is shallow in my chest. My mind can’t get its claws in anything.

“Come on. Focus. You’re okay.”

A truck outside honks its horn and I scream, dropping my glass of water into the sink. Constantly jumping. Firing on all cylinders.

“Come on, kid. Breathe.”

Pacing back and forth in my apartment, digging my fingernails into the palms of my hands.

“You’re okay. You’ve been sick. Stuck inside. That’s all this is.”

Boil water. Make peppermint tea. Settle onto the couch and pull my legs up under me.

Sleeping twelve hours a day. Trying to get well physically and I can feel my mind tightening. A spindle already holding too much yarn and doesn’t know what to do with the excess.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll feel better. I’ll leave the house. Talk to someone. Stretch my legs. Get some sun. Stop understanding why caged animals gnaw off their own limbs.

Autobiography

Night swimming in Puget Sound

"Morning Fog on a Puget Sound Beach" © Ingrid Taylarg, 2010. CC BY 2.0.
Morning Fog on a Puget Sound Beach” © Ingrid Taylar, 2010. CC BY 2.0.
After meeting with Alyssa, I decided to take a walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood. Inspected the yards of strangers, admired well-tended gardens and the last remaining Christmas decorations. I soaked up the quiet. The kind of thing you never realize you’re missing until you stumble on it again. How easy it was to hear my own footsteps, my own breath.

The scent of a new fence swept across a lawn. Cedar. That smell is forever tied to the summer my family made baidarkas in a friend’s workshop. I was too young to handle power tools, to build something, so I spent my time running around outside. I’d slide down the muddy embankment to the nearby creek. Then I’d roll my pant legs, wade up out into the water, and get all my clothing soaking wet. Bend over and hang my hands in the water, stay motionless as my fingers and toes grew numb, hoping to catch a fish, a tadpole, anything. Continue reading →