My Spirit Stands Strong

Progress, seldom linear,
tosses me into unexpected decline,
stranded and incapacitated.

My son with labour-hardened arms
leaps to my side, steadying me
and I feel the fear in his caring grip

My daughter, ever compassionate,
reaches out, eyes filled with horror
as my body crumples onto the bed.

My husband, my oak, seeks to comfort
his voice betraying the helplessness
this futile predicament imposes.

Beloveds, I know that you see me
this dis-abled, non-functioning shell
weakened and sickly, lying on this bed

Do not be deceived-
it is only an illusion –
vessel temporarily fettered

I am in essence, as before
ambitions and desires intact
hold this version of me

Sense the wholeness of my being
the woman I am yet to be –
my spirit stands strong.

(My Spirit Stands Strong first appeared here August, 2015; edited for this version.
Image my own)

Not Dead Yet

There is safety in apart-ment living;
would corral the little ones, declare
responsibility, obligations as a mask
for this self-banishing compulsion…

except that I am lying prone, exposed –
brains spilling onto concrete – shadows
revealing the darkness of my condition,
hopelessly locked in physical inertia.

I am an unwitting contributor to
scientific (and pseudo) probing:
audacious autopsies pronouncing
conclusive evidence of motives.

Too polite (and weakened) to deflect,
I submit, demonstrating complacency,
sacrificing autonomy; fail to assert
that it is I who is taking this life test.

And, by the way, am passing quite
adequately, which defies all rational
diagnosis and prognosis, and serves
to reassure me of ultimate success.

(Not Dead Yet first appeared here June, 2016. Image my own.)

Re-de-fine-d

Ask me how I’m doing
and I’ll say “fine”, not
because I’m actually fine,
but because “fine” is the only
socially acceptable response.

If I said that I have been lying
here, for three hours now,
willing my body to move,
that would elicit unsolicited
advice and tarnish my “fine”.

I’d berate myself for breaking
my promise not to moan,
knowing that complaining
provokes a compulsive need
to fix, which just infuriates me

Because my concept of trying –
which is defined by getting dressed
each day – does not match trying
every new therapy, drug, exercise
offered by well-meaning but clueless

others, who may experience fatigue
at times, but have no understanding
of what is is to be exhausted after
something as simple as bathing,
let alone debating what I haven’t tried.

So, ask me how I’m feeling, and
I’ll say “fine” and we move on
to the weather, or the latest
movie must-see, and I can bask
in the warmth of the contact

carry the conversation into the
void of the rest of my day, smile
to think that I still have friends
who accept my “fine” even though
they know I anything but…

(Re-de-fine-d first appeared here February, 2016. Edited here. Image my own)

The Same, But Broken

Fragility blindsides me –
I am a strong woman,
not courageous
but accepting
in face of pain,
grief,
illness.

Fragility is pervasive –
body fibres stretched
and torn, on brink
of brokenness;
mind overwhelmed,
obsesses, unable to organize
or let go…

If only I could let go.

I am weeping and not –
weeping from frustration
of immediate impossibility;
unwilling to weep, for totality
of loss is beyond me.

Outside these walls,
life continues,
regards me with disgust/
indifference/repulsion –
equality ignores the ailing.

And, yet…

in this state of rawness,
stripped of busy-ness,
I am as any other –

Just a soul seeking
a meaningful existence.

(The Same, But Broken first appeared here December, 2014. This edition has been revised. Art my own.)

Sufficiency

Disability corners me
twixt two directions –
the hurried rush
of ambition’s call
and the gentle nudge
of wisdom settling

Confined to four rooms
I am distanced from –
invisible to –
the weekend warriors
whose self-satisfied grimaces
race by my window

I remember that push –
not enough hours to the day
not enough money to succeed
never thin enough, fit enough
always grasping for more…

Legless and exhausted,
I am disqualified
from competing,
immersed in retrospection,
luxuriating in perspective –

I’ve always had, indeed,
continue to have
everything I need:
a home I can navigate,
the endless beauty of nature
and the care of loved ones.

Abundance, I’ve discovered, is attitude:
recognition and acceptance
that life is sufficiency

(I’ve derived this poem from a post by the same name, dated October 2014.
At the time, I was five months into the losses that were Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
Image my own)

Insecurity Resolved

Unnerved by invitations –
isolation equates with security –
fear the onslaught of questions,
the unleashing of a torrent –
emotions flooding, crashing
through this gated illusion –
best to withdraw.

Withdraw my best
when gated by illusion
crashing, emotions flood –
need to tame this torrent
question the onslaught, brave
insecurity, negate isolation
embrace the invitations.

(Tuesdays, I borrow from my Twitter poems. Follow me @Vjknutson.  The first stanza is the original poem.  I left it here,  then unsatisfied, decided to turn it upside down and create a new outcome. .  Image from personal collection.)

Levitating

Suits meet, banter about deals,
conspiratorial heads bent, deep
throaty laughs, confidence reeking.

I glide by, imperceptibly, am a whisper
on the window of their intensity.

Families congregate on front lawns,
squeals of delight trailing blurs,
adult murmurs lost in shrill echoes.

I float on by, an ethereal witness,
no more than the wisp of a cloud.

Only a dog, unleashed, catches
a whiff of something inexplicable,
gives chase, nips at nothingness.

I am elusive, lacking substance,
he retreats bewildered, interest lost.

Am I somehow flawed,  I wonder
aloud to the gathering of females
draped across my bed, intrigued

Have landed now, solidly connected
to this other-abled reality, grounded.

Intimate discussions of life’s mystery
peaks interest, all want to learn to fly,
beg me to demonstrate, inspired to try.

Detachment is the secret, I reveal;
just launch yourself and release.

Instincts grasp to offer support,
arms reaching out in assistance,
roots hindering their deliverance.

Alone, I swirl above reeling minds
dissolve into the mist, am free.

(It’s poetics night at dVerse and our host, Gina, asks us to consider our poetic hum – what duality we lead.  For three years, I lived an isolated, bedridden existence, while the rest of the world hummed along (pun intended).  It was fertile ground for writing.  The poem, Levitatingwas written 3 years ago, and immediately came to mind when I read the prompt.)

 

What Scars Remain?

Should I escape these shackles,
manage to re-surface, swim
despite this weakened condition
against the currents of disability,
find myself once again on the
solid grounds of civilization;
will I be embraced with cheers
of victory, or slotted into some
backroom, reserved for the fallen,
spoken to in hushed tones,
forever handled at arms length,
an object to be feared?

And if I manage to fight these
bonds that for so long have
threatened to annihilate,
will I have the bravery to face
the calling that once defined me,
shake off the cobwebs of
disorientation, defy the
certainty of unpreparedness,
draw from the well of past
experiences and rise to
a new battle, proving the
validity of my return?

Or, with freedom, do I look
to opportunity, clear the slate
of former ambitions, rewrite
the pages of my destiny,
embrace an attitude of
rebirth, decide to relinquish
the sword, cut my losses
and redefine a new, gentler
way of being in the world,
less dependent on a system
which undoubtedly propelled
this descent in the first place?

(For Reena’s Exploration Challenge.  Reena gives us a choice of prompts.  I have chosen  ‘disorientation’.  What Scars Remain was first written in August 2016.