“There is no activism without despair, no despair without hope. Despair can be as powerful an engine for change as hope.”Finding Hope in Despair — Borderless
She came into town
breathless with excitement
they were dying around her
but she wanted to go for coffee
to get her nails done, her hair, wax the city
burn the little temples of obedience
she didn’t think a swath of fabric
let alone standing apart like courting
could slow the spread of something
she was young, though not as young as others thought
Botox took care of that
and a little filler
her heart was set on
kicking up her heals and the virus
was just a news cycle
nothing to take seriously.
Waking in hospital she
momentarily forgot to
smooth her hair down until
she felt her fingers brittle and cracked
her beautiful face marred with fever
“at least I survived” she smiled
with yellowed teeth, hot with flux
half joking at the scared nurse who
was working her second double shift.
They decided not to tell her yet
until she was out of danger, if indeed she ever
that her father, mother and little sister
were not going
to wake up again
and join in her
Our society worships entirely the wrong animal, venerating them and reducing others to ash.
The news recently devoted a good portion of the sports coverage to how much money certain sports figures were going to be paid for kicking a ball across a field. And this in a time when our jobs are dissolving, our society is being wrecked, our economy may be irrecoverable and certain industries will cease to exist en mass. Put simply, there will not be jobs to come back to folks but apparently we still need to pay these guys billions for their service to humanity?
I cannot understand how ANY society and how any of us can tolerate/accept a sports figure being paid anywhere NEAR that sum for what they do when those who really do jobs worth paying, are dying in droves because they are not receiving enough personal protective gear to protect themselves.
When did we start paying someone to kick a ball millions and a nurse who saves our life, hundreds?
What’s wrong with us?
If I were an alien observing our planet, I would seriously wonder if we all were crazy in our assessment of VALUE. What we value. What we do not. If nothing else, Covid-19 has given us a chance to see this once and for all and try to do something about it.
We have marched for Black Lives Matter during this time because it was over-due and our raw emotions on the subject burst out of their polite shell and filled the streets with ire and a desire for equality but how many of us really want equality? Not all of us that is for sure, look around and you can see it in every facet of life, a desire to be above someone else somehow.
We still routinely under-react and permit by our inaction, serious hideous crimes like rape to go unpunished in this country and others.
It’s the year 2020 and we still think inequality for women is acceptable in some forms and fashion. Let us not forget what Maya Angelou said about wanting to vote for a white woman over a black man. She said – women were the original oppressed group, thus we should work backward until all oppressed parties are equal. I agree with her.
We still think hate crimes against Jews and telling Jews that Israel should not be their country is somehow acceptable, despite those Jews having descended from that country. Would we say the same to Black People about Africa. Of course not! So why do we say it to Israel? Because of the Palestine Question which Europe in particular has decided to side with, uncaring of the history of persecution toward Jews and their right to have some land of their own. Of course we shouldn’t persecute Palestinians either and of course, Israel has made mistakes but it’s now about what optics politicians choose and what side of the story is half-revealed via inaccurate news reporting. It’s essentially about which side looks right to support? Because Trump supports Israel, most left-wing supporters are against it. Yet it is not that simple and never should be. Lest we forget our history.
We still think homosexuality is unnatural and abhorant and that being queer isn’t natural. We don’t say it out loud because it’s not popular to say it, but we think it and we act it and gays know. They know.
We talk about slavery and how horrific it was, but half the time we just pay lip service to the deeper issues, because we don’t know our history so we don’t mention Native Americans and how they were exterminated en mass and continue to be disenfranchised. We’re so proud of ourselves for changing the Red Skins but we think that’s enough. Or how slavery has never really gone away, it’s just changed hands and outfits, but it’s still well and thriving in many forms.
So it’s never enough. Until everyone is equal and inequality and racism are a thing of the past. But will they ever be? With people who seem to thrive on discrimination and putting themselves ahead of others and putting others down? If people think wearing a mask is too much, is it any wonder they really don’t give a shit if you are sick or you are vulnerable? Don’t they just want you to die and bugger off?
Likewise with illness, with chronically sick people, it’s never enough to just have laws that allow them to not be discriminated against because discrimination comes in a myriad of differing forms. Subtle. Unreachable. Devastating. People of color have to put up with this EVERY SINGLE DAY as do women, as do gays, as do sick people. Just one roll of the eye says everything. Says; ‘we think you are pathetic‘ invalidates an entire moment.
Chronic illness is a little like amputation. Obviously anyone who has suffered an amputation will refute this and rightly so. But metaphorically it remains akin to the loss of a limb. You are left flailing, unsure of how to right yourself, and continue as once you were. A part of you is lost.
They talk of periods of adjustment. The stages of grieving: Anger for what you have lost. Shame imposed by a society who now judges you weak. Acceptance of a ‘new normal’ that includes intolerable things such as chronic pain etc. For many, those stages of grieving never really end, they cycle and you go through different dilutions depending upon how you progress.
But progress is perhaps not the right word. In our linear society where so much is expected. For someone to drop off and no longer thrive, in nature they would be left behind to perish. In our society they are carried along but reminded frequently, of their burden, of their ineptitude.
For many who suffer mental illness, physical illness, both, there is a lot of shame attached to their existing after this fact. Even as people do not come out and say it directly (and believe me, many do!) there is a thin veil that is easily penetrable. People know when they are treated differently, seen differently, worse, judged without jury.
Being ‘sick’ in any manifestation is seen as a ‘weakness’ by our society. This invariably goes back to the ‘dog-eat-dog’ notion of surviving. The weakest link perishes or is a burden to the whole. But these days, with our so-called faith and mercy in place, one might imagine a little more compassion? And if you did, you would be sorely disappointed.
Since getting sick in 2017 I have felt intermittently well enough to continue working and ‘accomplishing’. But as with any pendulum, when it swings deeply toward illness, I am right back at the horror point of when it all began, down on my knees, imploring the universe for healing. And for the most part I have done this alone, because as all those who have been sick for a time will attest, most people do not stay by your side. Even those you expect to.
You can’t plan any longer. A trip is a fear because what if you get sick? Then someone suggests; maybe it’s in your head, maybe you are making yourself sick? And no matter how many times you prove otherwise, they think maybe it’s a choice, just like being gay is a choice, right?
Wrong. You can’t rely upon yourself like you used to because you never know how it’s going to be, how you are going to be. And usually you could be relied upon 100 percent and now that’s gone and somehow you still have to plan a future, but how do you plan a future if you can’t rely upon yourself?
I try to take something from every experience I have, including negative ones. Without learning we don’t grow we just regurgitate and I would rather grow even if I’m throwing up and in pain as I do it. I have taken from this experience what is obvious, but I have also tried to take from others experiences, and have noticed disturbing patterns among those I know who have also been sick for a while or a very long while.
People don’t care.
Poverty goes hand in hand with illness.
Anxiety and fear are natural outcomes for a plethora of reasons.
Loneliness can kill.
What I have come to see is this. Sick people are TRUE WARRIORS.
They fight the unimaginable that most of us never have to endure. They have to get pacemakers in their 40s, they have to struggle through taking 2 hours to get dressed and STILL MANAGE TO SHOW UP and this strength – this strength is what I have learned the most from my experiences and listening to others. Strength comes in many forms. We dismiss most of those forms but they are real.
I watch people who have seizures and brain tumors, fight and fight and fight and I realize, we’ve got it backwards. We should be applauding these people not marginalizing them. But we do everything backwards, because as a whole we are poisoned by false ideas of what is valuable and what is not. We toss aside those we deem un-valuable when they are perhaps some of the most valuable people in the world.
So if you are disabled in any way, be it in your head, or your body, remember that. You are some of the most valuable people in the world. Let nobody ever let you forget that. You are some of the most valuable people in the world.
This is written for my sister Angie. You inspire me every single day. You are that light in the dark that refuses to give up and because of you, I refuse to give up too.
Mental Health Awareness Week (this year the focus is body image)
14 YEAR OLD BOYS AREN’T THE GOSPEL
The year we held a Madonna competition I was flat chested
Boys said; Asprins on an ironing board
Girls said; You can’t dance with us
The exclusion felt … hot pink and slimy
I wore black elastic bands on my wrists to hide the snub
He said; Zoe is taller than you, you look quite SQUAT
He said; Zoe has tanned skin, why do you always BURN
He said; You give good head but it’s a shame you aren’t Zoe
I threw up in the bathroom to hide the shame
The year my best friend taught me how to binge and purge
She said; You’ll soon have a waist as small as mine
She said; When you feel sad put your fingers down your throat
She said; Skinny is the new superpower for girls
I quit dance class because I didn’t have the energy anymore
The year I tried to stop giving a shit
I said; Fuck it. I’m me. I can’t be anything else I WAS BORN THIS WAY
I said; I may never love myself enough but I’m damn well not going to destroy me
I said; Hate the image in the mirror, at least love the inside
I said; Someone will always want to put you down, don’t give them the power
The next year I still didn’t wear bathing suits, I still walked with my shoulders rounded
But I didn’t have raw knuckles and I didn’t survive on the opinion of 14 year old boys
A decade later at an art show we meet again, he’s going bald
He said; You look fantastic. I don’t remember why we broke up
He said; I always thought you were the hottest girl in school
He said; Want to fool around behind this Van Gough?
I quit listening and wished I’d learned not to at 14.
What you think is important then, usually is not.
Try to love who you are. Perfect is an illusion and 14 year old boys aren’t the gospel. We don’t all have to be Zoe.
I’ve been told I’m a chronic pain in the ass
after all, it’s easy to destroy a child in an adult’s body
with past-tense words
and now in the time I’m meant to be at my strongest
chronic has visited me and stayed a long while
on a good day I think; This will not be forever
but temporary has always been a long way off
the doctors love to tell us; It’s incurable, get used to
living like this, hostage to something unknown and strange
as if that’s a normal thing to do
but if enough of us live with chronic illness, it will become normal
and that is not a good thing.
Before this …
I took chances, because you think
I’m invulnerable, sometimes I can fly
health, you take for granted
though I truly convinced myself, I had checked the boxes
right weight, exercise, organic, vegetables, no pre-made meals
(well, this is what I told my doctor, sometimes a couch counts as exercise, right?)
if I ate a slice of pizza, it was a treat with friends
though I like root beer, I never drank it
maybe making up for cigarettes, smoked in my twenties
but I thought if I keep jogging, if I keep living healthily
I won’t be felled, because you ARE WHAT YOU EAT.
A few months before I got sick, I recall
feeling strong, climbing through snow drifts and laughing
boundless energy, working long hours, feeling intensely alive
people saying; you look so healthy, your skin is radiant!
Those are not things people say now, unless
I apply a lot of make-up, to camouflage my fraying edges
instead it is me, who declines invitations
I am sorry I cannot go with you to eat, even though eating out
is the number one leisure activity where I live
because my stomach is ruined and I cannot digest much
I live plain and simple (and boring), like a nun and I am numbed
to the pleasures of wine and sauces and garlic, spices and oils
not recognizing my bloated mid section in the mirror
from the girl who once was told
she had an hour-glass figure, with a wasp waist
could run for buses and catch them in three-inch heals.
I know everyone has their burden
but when you get sick and it doesn’t go away
life becomes a series of scolds and let downs
you find out who really loves you and who harbored an anger
used the opportunity of your downfall, to insert a knife
it is the cowards way of course, but freedom of sorts
for none of us need, that kind of negativity in our lives
there is a blessing in disguise, when you find your tribe
the people who care and know the real you
not wanting to tear you apart, because it’s easy to kick you when you’re down.
But blessings do not salvage, the hours you spend sickening
remembering how you were rarely felled in past years
strong of body, sound of mind, juicing and walking ten miles
everything is turned upside down, inside out when you find
a burnt fuse, at the end of your outstretched arm.
There is no cure, there is no future
when you live, in a jar for the jarring
for a long while, I blamed myself
maybe in part, because someone I trusted told me;
“It is your fault, you must have somehow caused it”
easy to throw stones, at glass houses
I was a glass house, with many windows
break one and I cannot repair it
the wind will come in and make of my space
the sun will come in and make of my peace
Those things that brought me joy, were gone
instead, the regiment of illness strode in and stood firm
you cannot feel passion, when you are sick
ageing in hours, rather than decades, trying to stay above water
it is hard to feel hope
you rely upon the kindness of others
which is hard to do, if you are not used to it
and when they lift you to the light, you promise
if I can recover, I will try ever so hard to never be ungrateful
but with every mercy, is a dark day in hell
those days take it all out of you, like a scourge
the sickening can age you, more than a nightmare
one minute you recognize yourself, the next you are unknown
vulnerability, of not being able to take care of yourself
the expense and fear
your world crumbling around you.
These are things you get used to and when you have fallen
to the bottom and can no longer get up
that is where the truth lies
that is where you can find
your true self and the end of fear.
They tried to tell you that you were insane
making it up, all in your head, something’s wrong with that
crazy lady who pounds her fluttering chest in vain
tries to catch the eyes of doctors, with beseeching side-glance
SEE ME! HEAL ME! SAVE ME! WHAT IS WRONG?
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME? WHY DID I WAKE UP ONE DAY
SICK AND IT NEVER WENT AWAY?
And yes ! Something was wrong with me and still is
not my doing, not my causing, not my dreaming
despite you saying; You bothered us, when you called and were upset
no mercy, no mercy, no mercy, that is not love.
Helped me let go. Don’t hold on to negativity.
Oh doctor, get it outt!
and if you can’t, then give me the key, the saw, the pick
so I may survive myself and somehow continue on.
Am I to label myself chronically ill, or in recovery?
Surviving or dying or all of the above?
how do you define what doesn’t go and doesn’t kill?
Spending all your money on alternative treatments that
don’t even know what they pretend to cure
how do you describe one good day, followed by one in hell?
others won’t understand, because they are well
what I would give to return, to that safe water place
but even if I did, I would not be the same
you live years with a loaded gun to your head, everything changes.
I am not me anymore
I cannot see out of my left eye
I cannot lift heavy things, with my weak foreign arms
I can walk ten miles and not break a sweat despite this and be told
by friends and foes; OH YOU DON’T LOOK SICK
I am an apparent scar of contradictions and pain
I hurt every day, my stomach feels like
something is eating me from the inside out
it convulses and retorts and shouts
“you will never win, you will bathe in pain the rest of your life”
but I will still try
because I don’t know how to give in to enemies, I cannot see
and even as I cannot eat normal food
one day I am good, the next I am dying green
even as nausea, has become my constant companion
and bottles of pills and vitamins rattle in my pit
even as I fight to be gracious in the eye of the storm
and those I thought would stand by me, try to drown me instead
I know there is still a moment
I am well enough to remember who I am
never to find that peace of mind again
but maybe recover to another state of being.
I wake in the night covered in sweat and the disinterested doctor says
“get used to not sleeping, get used to all of this, it is what you must suffer and many others do”
as if it is normal to be like this, as if it is something we should not mention
I will never think it is normal to be hijacked!
I jog into the forest, because it reminds me I am still living, my feet still work
I fight with wilted hands, when they tell me there is no hope
that I should just consign my former glories to a picture album and put
my feet up for a fifty year occupation of sofas and couches and day time oblivion
because THE POWER OF ME can overcome the power of negativity and this I believe
as I see in the mirror a girl who doubts but stares back unblinking.
I have lost my will at times
I do not write as much, I have less energy
the last time I had a romantic dinner was in a dream and I
sleep with a heating pad on my stomach every night instead of a lover
but I still pay my own way and my own bills
I have a pride in pushing back against status quo
DEFYING the prescription of HOPELESSNESS.
they tell me go on disability. Just give up
I am not going anywhere, but to the finish line
by losing everything and having nothing but
the sheer will and dim light of my existence
I can do this without those I thought I had in my corner
because I am stronger than I realized
and this grieves me, as well as reassures me
but I come from a long line of stoic, strong women
and it seems sicker than I am, that we should hate each other
because life, surely we have found out, is fragile
and love is all that makes sense
but even without love I will continue and not
let the flame go out.
Sometimes I ask myself why?
why not just give in? Take the knife, swallow the pill
to oblivion or some non-sign-posted destination
I don’t have children to protect
it would be easy to slip out of this world and its sword edge of pain
but somehow I feel I should protect myself
maybe because others did not
maybe because you defend yourself in the end
when everything else is fallen and you are still
I am weak and tired and prematurely aged into
a hunched over version of myself
hair greying with shock, skin is sloughing off and my
body is tied to the rhythm of a sickness that purges and gluts
I was told this kind of disorder was permanent
but nothing I have found, is ever guaranteed
so I have chosen to ignore this and believe
we can all fight and overcome
even a death sentence
and when we know this
when we are strong for our weakness
realize our tears are just water and salt
burning the frustration of our visiting menace
then, we know nothing can hurt us, more than it already has
and we are free to dream
of a future without so much pain
where death stands to the side and lets us regain
some of our former dignity
for there is nothing dignified in sickness
and you don’t know me when you said I was glamorous
that is the last thing I am
I am beautiful for my courage
beautiful for my fear
beautiful for my survival
beautiful for my defeat
beautiful for my mercy of those who have no mercy for me.
And life is a wax and a wane
life is a torture and a friend
I am the totem of my own branding
I may live in a time where nobody else of my kith and kin remain
and once that would have filled me with pain
now I know you cannot rely upon
labels of safety
it is only by looking into the hearts of those
who stayed by your side when the storm hit
even if it is one, even if it is naught
you remain behind
the tempest cannot roar forever
eventually even agony ceases.
I wish now, to be everything you were not
to love others unconditionally
care for those who are in need
be the change I want to see
I want to find myself
at the end of all of this
I want to tell you, sickness
you do not win
you are just a miasma
I am a spirit with a soul
I will endure you
the me, of me, will remain
long after, to remember her worth.
Before this all began and through it, learned
only the fierce remain
only those willing to FEEL
and not those who run from feeling
with the ease of the damned.
She used to tell other girls
Sista! Stand up for yourself!
And when others needed her voice
She lent her ROAR
Don’t be quiet and let them walk over you, she cautioned
But when it came to her own
She sat demure, a photo in old box
Doe eyed and blinking
Knees together, ironed hair
Palms touching in supplicate
Head keenly nodding on hot wire
Stomach lurching like unmoored ship, drunk on the dream of voyage
All the while
A scream building inside
NO! NO! NO!
I am not a number to be parceled and coded
Spat out and told, we have no answers, for we have no understanding of the soul
I FEEL and in the night, if you listen closely at my door you’ll hear me pray
To every spirit and four leaf clover, even, the lopsided rabbit in my arms
As time flickered away with each new day of sickness
She needed an advocate
To be her unguarded voice
Which had become lost
In all the twists and turns.
And the tall doctor
He was no mind-reader
He had his well rehearsed routine and could if needed, click his ankles in mid-jump
She wasn’t easy to label and dismiss
Nor did she want to be, a compliant good girl
She wanted to question until they dragged her out into the street
Writhing to the sound of her own outrage
That we are abandoned by medicine in our most desperate hour
Leaving unhealed like scabs, without voices, our ill tended shadows
She wanted to understand
And find ways that didn’t involve dependency upon pills
He was a blonde marionette, testing his overbite
Talking in her head, Yak yak yak
The sound of chomping wood and splinters for lunch
She heard no future
Unless she spoke up
But where was her tongue?
Where had it gone?
I wanted to
open my mouth as wide as it will go
no .. even
disarticulated and gaping
for maximum sound
a fog horn
and implore you
the itch in my throat
the lump that turns to anchor
pulling me down to ocean floor
no oxygen, just humiliation
I’ve never asked before
hot-faced and ashamed
I’m all grown up and lost
wandering toward your call
unpick my mistakes
return to the scattered fold
but every time I begin
something in your tone
heeds a warning
and I go back to
sore like spring cold
my throat is not meant for singing
it is a lump hardened by knowing
you will not hear.
(After becoming so sick I decided my only option would be to move back to a country with socialized healthcare. I basically said as much to my father, the first time I have ever asked him for help as an adult. I felt so guilty for asking. Some of my pride comes from being independent, not relying upon others. I find it hard to ask. But what was harder was his lack of response. I could blame many things, maybe he was in shock, maybe he didn’t know what to say. But parents are parents for life, if their child at any age needs help, and you know they may not be able to help themselves, I would think most would help them. Now I feel stupid, ashamed and embarrassed for asking. I hadn’t expected too much, just some type of support in moving back, if indeed a way could be found. But he stayed pretty negative, he doesn’t want to make an effort or get involved. I realized then I had long thought family meant we were all in it together, helping each other through this life, but it’s more ‘them’ and ‘me’. If I could, I would help myself. I’ve done it every other time. But being sick means you can’t always help yourself. There is no worse feeling than asking for help after feeling so bad for having to ask for help and then feeling absolutely ridiculous for having asked. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, it’s just challenging because it would be better if I could live in a country with socialized healthcare at this point, being swamped by bills I cannot afford. I suppose like many who do not have that option I will have to find another way. I don’t feel hard done by, I just feel like I don’t have that familial support that I half believed I could have, if I asked for it, that feels very lonely but also I feel stupid, for expecting, or asking anything of anyone, I wish I had the strength by myself but I just don’t).
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?