Monday, October 06, 2003

The Anchor

A distant Lawrenceville summer
Weeks in the hands of psychiatry
My dark drear disturbing
One person too many
On a church-group retreat
In the many-churched
Many-steepled hill-held
Paradise of Warren.

Came to a miserable
Self-despising standstill
As I sometimes do
Sudden flares of minor
Fires burn down to
Self-rage ashes of
Immobile sullen stolidity
The only difference that day –
An unexpected audience.

I don't remember
The trip back to Pittsburgh
Just the interview:

"How often do you feel 'down'?"
"Have you considered suicide?"
"Have you tried to kill yourself?"
Not yet.
And more questions and answers
Not to the point and
None of your business anyways.

I was a hell of a kid
Any way you parse it.
They did good by me
Don't anyone tell you different
I wasn't headed anywhere good
That's by damn sure.

The truth was -
And it's what I told them -
My depression protects me
From my rages and furies.
I was always so full
Spite and judgment
Hate and bile
It burns
It flares
But I'm the one that
Lashes out.

Rage can fountain upwards
In a glittering-red arc
But gravity brings the stream back to
The fountainhead again.

Judgment begets self-judgment
And small outside things
Grow vast turned within.

Yeah, I was angry, alright.
But those internal scorpion-whips
Left me drained, immobile
A rock of rage
Much too heavy for an arm too weak
To pick up or throw.

This bundle of
Inert fury
Was delivered to the
Of St. Francis Juvenile
Psychiatric Unit.
I tell people that I was
And they look at me in pity.
But I got what I needed there.

I'm not a good man
But I'm not that ticking
Bomb, self-winding
Mechanism turning
Inward and inward and inward
Ever tighter, ever-silent
Until some future outward

The tools for self-defusion
Are small, practical
And very portable.
I won't say that the
Rages don't come
But they do go.
And the knowledge makes
All the difference.

They tell me that St Francis
Is gone
That the high anchor
Holding up that hillside of
Slowly-decaying half-slums
Has been cut loose;
That one day that slipping
Neighborhood will drop
Into the short-lived Allegheny
River's last mile.
But in my mind the anchor
Holds me still
Above the sliding slopes
Of my sudden silences.


No comments: