Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Word of the Day Challenge: Day Four

I’m trying to vary these posts a little, so rather than post another response in thought-form, I decided to post a poem I wrote a while ago.

I have always loved writing, but I mostly got interested in poetry when I was sick. It was a way of arranging and rearranging my thoughts so that they made sense. It also made me feel like there was something I could do. I could put words together in a way that required structure, thinking, creativity. It was a way of making something beautiful out of something bad.  

There are reams and reams of poems I wrote during this time. A lot of them, on reflection, are terrible – but that’s ok. They were a way of coping with difficult feelings and it wasn’t always about being disciplined or polished, or producing something ‘worthy’. But there are several poems I am quite proud of, and this is one of them. It was actually something I wrote about the therapy process, and in particular an excellent therapist I worked with for a year or so who had actually suffered from anorexia in the past herself. It’s what I call one of my ‘crazy poems’ – and I don’t mean that disparagingly. It’s how I define a particular period of my life. I was trapped and isolated. I was obsessive and relentless. My mind wouldn’t keep quiet for five minutes, and I was constantly chipping away at my own self-esteem and self-image, so that I quite literally felt that I was crazed all over with cracks and fissures.

Poetry was one of the ways I found of papering over those cracks until I had the tools to mend them properly.  


You thwarted my seclusion in a private hell
of full-length glass, and fat, and toilet bowls,
and I accepted - even welcomed - the intrusion. You too had known the baying howls
of personal demons, but had paid your dues
in soggy gags of bread and wine and lived to tell
the tale. (The white-coats told you not to, squeaking like their rubber soles
on hospital linoleum, but you knew better and refused
to play dumb, choosing instead to exhume the clattering bones
of your skeletons. And they were like our skeletons,
bare and usual, and thus we were given a semblance of hope, a loan
of belief to cash when feeling delicate). And

the Tuesdays came and went, the leaves outside your window
browned, then budded, browned, then died
their wilted deaths again. I spent those months inside
my thoughts, gnawing myself like a caught fox, and your clever
questions never ceased their working at the locks - you wanted to know
about this, and this, and that... and gradually, over time, you pried
me open, skilful as a shucker sprising his lever
into the oyster's muscled hinge. And out you thumbed
each bright, secreted pearl from previous gloom,
turning its new star in the working constellation
of your hands as the sun spoked in to the neutral room.

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