They said, keep the blinds drawn, what we have to say, isn’t good

they lay her down on a white sheet and beneath, the hammered metal hummed

the bulb in the middle of the room, behind linoleum, sung a hissing song

their white-coated pluck and scratch, indifferent and sterile, she was just, flesh and blood

another in a long line of patients who, largely were forgotten, consumed by a machine, uncaring of individual

she could feel the dried corners of her eyes crack, as she looked left and right

someone once told her, adult survivors of abuse, find it hard to relax

they are always looking for what is crawling out of cupboards

she didn’t want her past to run her future, but now it seemed, her future was in doubt

never before had she felt so alone

the petty bravery of moving countries, seemed a facile thing, for children who didn’t yet know, true terror

surely it is easy to be brave when you have no war, and are just posting letters

she lived like that for so long, running from childhood’s sadness, enjoying the wide open space of adulthood

thinking she had all the time in the world, surely growing older was for another life

it wasn’t entirely selfish, she did her part, but there was always the tendency to want to make up for the past, by living without a care

and then it was no longer that way

impossible to ignore, unable to let go of, she was swiftly consumed and irrevocably changed

even if tomorrow the cloud lifted, she would never walk as lightly as she used to

the power of naivety, ignorance is surely, our dearest friend

now her heart beat fast all the time, unable to still, the surge of emotions inside

she was a rabbit in her burrow, smelling fox

she was no longer the quick silver of a girl, without terrible knowledge

days were unbearably long, and serious, like the frown on an old man’s face

they spoke of compromise, a series of steps, faltering and bursting apart and trying over

it was as if all of her was removed and pummelled into earth and made to rise again

never was it more silent, never did she wish for the phone to ring and something to let her out of the nasty trap with jagged mouth

words are just words, she could have said; I am strong, I am going to fight, but in the next breath she may

simply not be able

and that lack of, that inability, like a prison, or a sudden dismemberment, was, a kind of horror she’d never been creative enough to imagine

like being stolen from yourself, and hearing in the distance, the sound of children dancing

to your favorite song

if life is indeed a battle, she thought, this is where I need to buckle down

put aside my tendency to want to climb out of the window and skip the lesson

stifle the longing to run fast, in the opposite direction

everything so far, had brought her to this point, it wasn’t what she’d imagined

instead, she’d hoped by now, she’d have found her groove, begun as humans tend, to build her fortress

it wasn’t time yet, it wasn’t nearly time yet

and all the days she’d squandered, thinking there would be more

all the long drawn out machinations, to position herself and be ‘responsible’

denying the lustre of living

she’d put off joy so many times, in favor of ‘sensible choices’

where were those now? She berated herself for not having taken

more vacation, more experiences, that glass of wine, danced on that table top

she worked for a future, she may never get to experience, sure she felt bitter, angry at her lack of insight

though most believe, we’re never ready for bad news or, the fall of favor

we think we predict worst case scenario but that’s only an anxious mind

seeking to control the uncontrollable and unknown

nothing prepares you for a premature curtain fall

nothing shores you up to deal with catastrophe

we muddle through or we give up

those are the only two ways we journey

when the wet-ass hour comes tolling

she felt a grief for her bad choices and wished, like others she could have no regrets

it is hard not to regret when you’re cut off from everything

difficult to look forward when the present is biting at your ankles

she wasn’t one to pray for herself

but she did now

she prayed for the strength she felt she didn’t have

she prayed not to feel so isolated

cried thinking of how many before her, went through this darkness alone, their hearts aching to be cared for

she was a little girl again, looking for her mother beneath furniture

seeing her in album covers and from the top of buses

that woman had her mother’s eyes, large and dark

that lady’s figure is slim and reedy like her mother’s was

at night she wanted to feel the way she imagined a child does

put to bed and told, everything is well, you are safe

if she’d had children, she’d be saying it to them now

but life threw her a curve-ball and she ended up reproducing only

empty rooms collecting dust

perhaps it was for the best, now that she’d sunk so low

for how could she care for anyone, when she could not for herself?

if everything has a reason, she wasn’t sure of this

to teach her gratitude? To punish her for lassitude?

if there was a God she hoped, somehow to end her suffering, even by means of eternal sleep

but she felt bad for praying when so many, suffered far worse than her, and how they coped, she did not know

only that she had to try each day to keep going, in what direction was unclear

she wasn’t sure of the sign-posts or meaning, it was too easy to let fear, guide her way

so many things needed to change and yet, she was tired, so tired of fighting and being scared

they say those brought up unkindly, learn to be strong

she didn’t feel strong at all, she felt like only a thin wind, kept her from collapsing

and all her plans were thrown in water, watching the ink bleed out, with nothing left to find, but papier-mache

her grandmother once told her, out of nothing you can build, entire universes

she tried now to imagine a place, where she would be restored

where all the things she still had to do, remained possible

surely you can tell when, the end of the record is over and, it’s about to go quiet

she hadn’t been able to, she’d one day been carrying her dancing shoes, across the newly waxed floor, her eyes feverish with anticipation

and the next, swallowed by sickness, left without curative

only the static of a cold room and a script for patience

she’d been spat out of the system, left to flounder by road-side

how different, she thought, from childhood where, we do everything to protect them from fear

sewing toys that will keep them company at night

mobiles to send them to sleep, songs to ward away nightmares

and at some eventual point, we decide they’re ready for the real world

full of savagery and disregard and people who are supposed to help

but are only doing the bare minimum

is it any wonder we flounder, and miss a step?

looking around in wide-eyed fear

mouthing the unasked question

is this what it feels like, to be real?

59 thoughts on “Papier-mache

  1. This is one sustained howl of incomprehension. So good. From the beginning on that terrible metal bed, such a terrifying image, the the rest flow, one after the other, into that final, unanswerable question.

  2. I had worried it was a narcissistic self-involved whine 😉 So I’m very glad for the howl! 😉 Thank you. Your non-Valentine’s poem of today was gorgeous. Happy commercialized hearts day, on a real note, wishing you a lovely day of love.

  3. Dearest Kindra, thanks for reading and saying so, I took a big risk as I wrote far more me, me, me and far more raw than I’m comfortable doing, so it feels good to know it wasn’t a mistake. Thank you again xo

  4. Thank you D. I know I write quite close to the heart but this one was hard to press ‘publish’ on for some reason, very personal, very unfiltered and I was afraid of coming across as whiny and weak but I’m glad I published it if people got something out of it. xo Happy Valentine’s Day for you and J.

  5. One by one, they fall – Santa Clause, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, and more – Childhood’s illusions – Adolescent invulnerability and immortality – Idols with feet of clay and dark secrets – But becoming real in the real world, hard, disappointing, vulnerable as it may be, is what we are about, where we learn what strength means.

    Enough trying to say wise things in reply – can’t hold a candle to what you have written here.

  6. We have always used Valentine’s Day as an excuse to have a good meal on our own without having to suffer children’s food fads. Now most week days are Valentine’s Day.

  7. This is a wonderful telling of truth and, as always, a beautiful way for me to admire your mind. You do this like no other I know. ❤

  8. Love this Candice. Perfect, beautiful and sad expression of how illness impacts our lives… it made me think of death and rebirth of a new self. Thank you for writing this, it is very touching and real ❤

  9. The fact that it’s titled “Papier- mache” and coupled with so many quotable lines, especially these:

    “if life is indeed a battle, she thought, this is where I need to buckle down

    put aside my tendency to want to climb out of the window and skip the lesson

    stifle the longing to run fast, in the opposite direction

    everything so far, had brought her to this point, it wasn’t what she’d imagined

    instead, she’d hoped by now, she’d have found her groove,”

    displays its fragility and yearning too. Plus, I love when you say, “wet ass hour”.

    If we are all honest, fear transforms us in many ways, it’s natural to covet it instead of catch and release. The ending lines brings the poem full circle.

    “There’s hope”, always, there is.

  10. Loved what you said, that ‘fear transforms us in many ways, natural to covet it, instead of catch and release.’ Thought that was brilliantly true. Given me a lot to think about. Was it in your second life you got this wise or your third? I can never recall 😉 Seriously though, wrote this a few days ago, then yesterday happened, made me think it was redundant, but it’s not, as you say, full circle, and honesty is the only thing keeps us sane. Wise. Wise. Wise Girl.

  11. I hope to be that rebirth. These last months have been a living hell and now I see a way forward I hope. Thank you – for being a good friend and a kind voice in the dark. When you’re sick those kinds of things take on special powers and literally can save you. I appreciate you and your talent so much.

  12. Oh how right you are my friend. I could not agree more. I have been fortunate and blessed in not having had many until just recently and I see how inhumane the whole system can be, and then as for rare or chronic illness? They stigmatize and condemn so fast. I finally seem to have found a doctor worth their salt, and that is a blessing. I wish only good things your way my lovely friend thank you for reading this and for your support it means a LOT

  13. Well you really can’t complain about that right? Then again I am sure they come visit and are around often enough, or at least they ought to be! Do they live far away? I know it must be hard if they do. I miss having a family here terribly, although I didn’t have that traditional set-up I do wish I had. It is a source of endless comfort and helps us have security. I hope you had a good day either way xo

  14. Thank you dear one for your appreciation and support. It means so much to me. I do like how you said childhood’s illusions as that’s just it isn’t it? Excellent. I do agree with you it’s a necessary rite of passage and maybe more than once.

  15. I’m just living. I wish I was THAT wise. Trust me, I’m not. I think you just write boldly and raw enough to make others think, Candice.

    That’d be it. 😊

  16. We’re an hour on the train away from them, but they are all in the same place, so tend to visit en masse. It’s rare to have a weekend with nobody here. This weekend we’ll have five, four of mine and one partner. It’s hard work cooking for so many so often in this kitchen that is not. We did have a good day yesterday thanks, even if it was cold 🙂

  17. This struck so many chords with me, I’m still resonating. Thank you for writing and posting this – you echo the fears of all those with chronic illness and pain, which makes us all feel less alone. We have to let it out and I’m so glad you did. Brilliant writing once again, Candice. 💖
    (P.S. Be sure to check your mailbox tomorrow. 💕💞)

  18. I shall do lovely lady. Thank you so much. I do think that since chronic pain causes one to feel so isolated we need to stick together and support one another, I would do it because it felt right before I knew it was necessary. I think you and I gravitated toward one another maybe in part because of a sympatico of spirit (except you spell in English a lot better than I ever shall! ha ha!) xo

  19. That’s kind, and I think your wish worked. I didn’t take a tablet when the second migraine started and although I felt suicidal yesterday, I slept okay (the medication stops me sleeping) and today I’ve been fine! Crossing fingers tomorrow will go fine.

  20. Thank you so very much 💓 I’ve been so sick I am praying it does end eventually it’s been a terrible ordeal and still is but I really hope not forever. Thank you my friend.

  21. Yes, I think we were “sympatico” in spirit first, before we knew about each other’s health problems. Not so sure about my spelling though, haha! I rely on spell checker these days. 😊
    Hope you’re having a good day today, dear Candice. ❤️

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