adversity · creativity · disability · health · poetry · recovery · women's issues

Dear Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I have examined your wallpaper,
discussed the scholarly attributes
of shades of yellow, traced the edges
of your unravelling with my mind,
argued the merits of Gothic horror;

marvelled at the brilliance of wording,
the courage to define the nature of
feminine madness, the boldness to
highlight inequalities long before the
establishment of a Person’s Act.

Forgive me, but I need to set aside
this keyboard for a moment, for I tire
easily, am suffering from an exhaustion
that is systemic and calls for elimination
of all stimulus in favour of rest, you see

I share your sentence of confinement,
isolated to a room with windows, my
mind wandering to ancestral gardens,
contemplating shadows and movement
cognizant of underlying forces, creeping.

My husband has just left, dear man, having
checked on me, taking on my burden,
concerned that I am not sleeping at night
thinks that by reading and rereading your
words I am only fueling an already over-

active imagination; begging me to be still
as the doctor has recommended; but I am
burning to tell you that time has no
relevance between us and that you and I
exist simultaneously – a secret we dare

not confess – how correct your impulse
that there was more than one woman,
that we are many, barred by the designs
of society, papered over by irrational,
outdated shades of yellow, lacking

symmetry, or sensibility, suffocating
our creativity, tortuously contorting
ourselves to been seen, accepted.
It is the smell of our discordant souls
that pervades your consciousness

the rotted withering of  a stifled
existence – a yellowed existence –
once hopeful, sunny, now molding
mucous, desperately torn away
at the edges, pleading for escape

How grateful I am that you see –
may I call you Charlotte – that you
have smelled the angst, witnessed
the struggle, are willing to tear at
the sticking places, to set us free.

200px-Yellowwp_med

( The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman [not sure why 1899 edition depicted here bears a different surname] in its entirety can be found here:

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/literatureofprescription/exhibitionAssets/digitalDocs/The-Yellow-Wall-Paper.pdf )

 

disability · dreams · health · Humour · life · nonfiction · Rants · recovery

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

I’d go back to school, continue post graduate work, rally the troops to get me there, scrounge
the fees, find someone to carry the books (I no longer have the strength) – undoubtedly miss a few sessions, get behind, feel frustration building, consult with the energetic youthful instructor, become brain locked when I cannot interpret the email address she writes down for me, confront the fact that transcribing the required reading assignment in nearly impossible (which means the work will likely never get completed in the allotted time period), and drop out.

I’d look after your young children, give you a break, but my hand is not steady and if I drop a cup it will break and what if it shatters where the children are playing – barefooted because I couldn’t rally the wherewithal to get them dressed without that much needed tea – and now the shards are a real threat, and the children are laughing and bouncing around, not heeding my warnings, thinking it’s all a joke, and I have lost control, needing to clean it up and manage the children, which I cannot do because multi-tasking is no longer within my realm of possibilities.

I’d visit my sister, the schizophrenic, who lives in a group home, and try to be supportive, but my mind is still reeling over the children, and other accumulating failures, and I know I’ve let everyone down, and quite frankly, her current state of neurosis seems so much less troublesome than mine, and I have nothing to say that would aide her other than I know what it feels like to be fucked up and exist outside the ‘norm’, and right now I just want to crawl back into my cell of isolation and breathe again – so have a good life.

I’d get a scooter, try to go for a ride on my own – be independent – but I’d likely choose the back roads to avoid the traffic and, not having accounted for inclement weather, would find the pace too fast and be forced into some small town where (with my luck) they’d be having their Christmas parade and I would be caught between crowds lining the street and marching bands and in a moment of panic would duck into the nearest opening – a family restaurant from which people are constantly coming and going  and where I’d realize that I just need to get home – and try to exit  just as someone (equally as pressed) is trying to enter, and having lost all vestiges of my normally polite self, I would refuse to back up, choosing instead to rage at the poor unsuspecting woman, who only needed a quick place to pee.

So, when you next ask me what I do with myself all day – and aren’t I bored – be assured that I am not lacking in suitable stimulation, do not need to take on added responsibility to give myself a sense of purpose, am incapable of volunteering with any degree of compassion, and have accepted my current state of dependency as the most appropriate given coping capabilities. I am, at present, unable to navigate life with any degree of normalcy, am content to struggle with my own limitations, putter at a speed below tortoise, bear the silence of solitude, and stay home.  I am not broken, in need of rescue, or lost.  I simply am.

life · poetry · recovery · spirituality

False Prophet

I used to ride the New Age train
finding answers in the stars
unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe
a warrior for peace.

I was a see-er, an analyser
purporting to spew wisdom
a vehicle for a higher power
a spiritual guide.

It was like riding the bull
in a rodeo show –
fast and entertaining
but not sustaining.

And when I fell –
as surely we all do –
only the dust in my mouth
attested to my momentary ride.

The crowds have moved on
nothing to see here anymore
just post theatrical let down –
the show is over.

I was the mirror in the funhouse
distorting images of reality
believing I offered insight
unaware of the duplicity.

Magical thinking is
the merry-go-round of life
spinning fantasies
of wonder and revelation.

In the end, it is uncertainty,
not creed or indoctrination,
that rules destinies –
change is the only given.

recovery

A Child’s Grief

I didn’t cry when you died in that fire,
you and your sisters and brother.
I didn’t cry when we saw the images on the news –
the charred remains of your house,
four stretchers with black tarps being carried from the scene.
I didn’t cry when we all crowded around the coffin –
one built for four – your bodies reduced to nothing –
family members wailing in disbelief.
I didn’t cry, because I couldn’t.

Your bright eyes haunted me –
that impish smile of yours
cutting through my soul
taunting me, as you always did –
your quick tongue and high energy
dancing around me, making my head spin –
raising my ire until I could take no more.I wish you were dead, Billy!
I’d said it out loud.
Said it in front of everyone.
Said it with spite and meant it.
Said it, only days before the fire.

I know they know.
I can tell by the way they all hold each other,
and cry into their handkerchiefs
and don’t look at me.
I can tell they know it is my fault.
I know it is my fault.
I didn’t really mean it, Billy.
I didn’t really mean it, God.
We were just playing around.
Billy and me, it’s how we are.
We were just fooling.
Billy’d always make me mad,
then we’d make up – everytime
I swear.
Please God, make it not so.
I won’t fight with him anymore, I promise.
I only fight with him ’cause I like him.
You know how it is with boys and girls.
Billy’s my cousin.  I love him.
Please send him back God.
I’ll be good and learn to tame my temper –
Mommy always tells me to watch my temper –
I’ll be good, you’ll see.
I didn’t mean for you to kill all of them –
well…I didn’t really mean for any of them –
it’s just something you say –
when you’re ten and don’t know any better.

health · Humour · poetry · women's issues

The Queen is Missing

She’s not in the kitchen –
presiding over the preparations,
thriving amidst the chatter,
tutting away thieving hands.

She’s not in the classroom –
mastering subjects,
upholding order,
ruling with a charitable hand.

Nor is she at social affairs –
smiling regally,
head bent in rapt attention,
compassion oozing forth.

The Queen is missing –
the poise and grace
that marked her carriage
has vanished without a trace.

Don’t ask the old woman –
tottering down the lane
stooped and stumbling –
she’s not all there.

Her mind’s a trickster,
her ego a petulant child
unwilling to concede wrong –
she’s merely the court jester.

 

adversity · dreams · health · poetry · recovery

Oh, To Dream

I dream of waking before the dawn,
preparing for my day with proficiency,
professionally preened and on the go.

In reality, I see the early light of day
through an insomnia-induced haze,
or miss it altogether, unable to rise.

I will carelessly tie my hair back,
and moan at my image, forgoing cosmetics –
no one will see me, after all.

If I dress, it will be for comfort,
elasticized waistline compensating for swelling,
soft fabrics to soothe the burning aches.

In my dream it is the first day of school,
and I am excited and anxious,
caught up in the camaraderie of the moment.

I awake to the resounding silence of solitude,
no schedules await me, no colleagues
exchanging pleasantries, communal conspiracy absent.

I will pace myself, shuffling
between bed and simple tasks,
a cup of tea, maybe some writing.

I drive in my dream, a shiny red car
in which I glide through the streets
and park with the pride of knowing it awaits.

Its been years since I’ve felt the freedom
and independence of self-chauffeuring,
reliant on the more able-bodied, sharply cognizant.

It’s a rare occasion that rouses me from
this compelled complacency, enough
to venture into the hyper-stimulating world.

Disability has closed around me,
limiting experience, restricting imagination,
until I dream – and am whole again.