A Sonnet

I realize that the last few posts have been poetry, and I sort of apologize for that.  I don’t apologize for the poetry itself, but I do know that sometimes poetry can be sort of confusing and exclusive and I really don’t intend this blog to become a place solely for poems.  But I hope you’ll take it all in stride – my soul has been particularly heavy with words over the last week or so, and I’m glad I have this place to deposit those words.  My poetry is just as important and meaningful to me as my essay-like prose.  It’s another way I figure things out.

I am formulating one of those essay-like things in my head currently, to be up Saturday night at the latest.  My dorm is doing this thing called Confidence Week, where we don’t wear makeup and we cover the mirrors and stuff.  I, however, have taken a slightly different approach to Confidence Week – and the following poem was the start of my discovery as to where my confidence lies.  I wrote this a few days ago, after a couple days of having an artistic cold (as in, it was like my nose was all stuffed up but instead of my nose, my brain and heart were all stuffed up with words and I couldn’t figure out how to get them out).  Then, I had a particularly challenging day on Monday and the result was this poem.  The day wasn’t challenging in that it was a hard day – really, it was just a deep day.  A lot to think about.

Anyway, you’ll see that post soon.  In the meantime, I’m sharing this piece.  I was hesitant to do so – still am – because it sounds sort of dark.  But it’s not.  It’s only honest.  Don’t be afraid of something honest, because the most true stuff is usually also hard to swallow.  It’s meant to be read aloud – preferably by me – but if I’m not around, it might help to read it out loud to yourself.  I wrote it to the song Spiegel Im Spiegel, too.  It’s called A Sonnet, for various reasons.

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I am not like everyone else.An enigma but only a shrouded one.
A breath but only a gasped one.
I flirt with this world as though it meant something.
I exist like I’m important but I’m not.
What do you think when you are collapsing?
To whom do you run when no one sees you coming?
They’ve always told me that everyone was special.
So I believed that included me.
With my talents so rare and precious,
my flittering eyes begging to be caught.
You tell me what I do means something.
But I can’t place it anymore.
I thought I was a magnet
but perhaps I’m turned the wrong way.
They called me special but failed to admit that I was only just.
I am enough for my small portion –
Risk a bit, yes.
But a distance is kept that confuses me.
It goes against who I thought I was:
I thought I was a stolen breath,
a wide-eyed blessing.
But what the hell is going on?
Do I trust you all or not?
I want to come into my own.
I want to be magnificent to someone.
Don’t you get it?
There is some blackness living inside me that I don’t understand.
I am convinced both that I am alone
and that I am only one honest with the universe.
How quick broken hearts feign healing.
Are you all as mixed up as I am?
How quickly people are forgotten.
How quick we are to pretend life is normal.
I am not like everyone else,
but only because I’ve admitted it.
Break through my icy veil
so I can glimpse she who hides in the depths of my soul.
If you saw her,
would she be more than special?
Would she be the magnet people call her?
When you find her,
tell her to keep going.
Tell her she is only lost because no one will search hard enough.
She is not like everyone else,
and maybe she doesn’t need to be.

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Antithetical.

And I am desperate for Your grace.

I need Your provision like I need air.

When I dream, I dream about drowning

in a sea of water, thick with salt and pollution.

And I gasp, because light does not reach the bottom of the ocean.

My lungs whisper frantically.

Don’t tell me you’ve never dreamed of the ocean depths,

of being lost in the Mariana Trench, one thousand eighty miles below anything terrestrial.

The hardness of your stone heart and lead feet pull you there.

If any of us were being honest,

you would know the world’s population claims residency in the Trench.

And so when I am honest with myself

and I allow myself to sink below the waves,

all the way down to the waveless black,

only then can I truly long for the taste of air.

Mostly nitrogen, though everyone had us fooled that what we breathed was oxygen.

They spin many tales about the air and the waters.

From my seat at the bottom of the planet,

I can tell you that there are no pineapples here

and there are no blue fish who sing mindless songs

and it is too cold for mermaids.

When you sit at the doorstep of the hot mantle of the earth,

on the threshold of the underwater volcanoes,

it is easy to remember the feeling of nitrogen in your lungs,

interspersed with oxygen and some carbon dioxide.

But it took sinking to appreciate the feeling of full lungs.

And only here, floating in the depths cold as ice and yet so much closer to the fiery core

do I cry out for the air.

We are broken, they told me.

We are pale representations of what we were made to be,

watercolor paintings grown moldy and yellow after years of hiding in the attic of some old spinster.

Cracked and shattered.

When a vase falls from the mantle and five pieces scatter across the floor,

(because it was thick porcelain, not glass)

it seems easy to glue it back together.

So you do, and you are careful about it.

You buy special porcelain glue from the five and ten shop

and you spend a whole Saturday morning at your kitchen table.

And then you put your once-shattered vase back on the mantle

because it looks so perfect, you see,

and while fixing it you thought perhaps you’d relegate it to some dusty corner in the den,

but it looked good as new so you changed your mind.

And it sits on the mantle and people forget the day it fell down,

and one spring day you saw some purple wildflowers on your drive home,

and you picked them.

They’re only weeds and you know that but you picked them anyway.

You arranged them in your vase,

and you put some water in it too,

water from the depths of the Mariana Trench

probably

and your mantle looks perfect.

Maybe you walk away to make dinner or go for a run or something.

But when you look again at your once-shattered-once-glued vase,

your eyes are drawn to the puddle of Mariana Trench water dripping onto the floor.

We are broken, they told me.

And when I break into five pieces,

you can glue me back together

but you can’t find the trillions of dust particles that sealed the miniscule gaps between the porcelain fragments.

We may not look broken,

but I’m telling you there are cracks.

And if you were honest with me

you would not try to make the cracks

more significant or more insignificant than they are.

We are like wounded doctors, all of us.

We run around trying to fix everybody

and we forget the gashes on our foreheads and the holes in our chests

because we are bleeding just as bad as the rest of them.

So antithetical in our own existence.

Catch the blood in the vase, dump half of the Mariana Trench onto our wounds.

So fragile and yet so resilient to the depths.

Lambs who sleep with wolves,

whoring after money and fame and power,

slaves strong enough to break our shackles

but not stupid enough to remove the fixture we should be chained to

because in the depths of our hearts or our brains we know we are only fit enough to be in one place.

Flimsy and floppy, traversing from here to there,

from content to greedy,

making a poem about drowning into something about doctors and whoring.

And I don’t know what comes next

but if I did I know I would still be afraid because aren’t we all?

I don’t look for questions and I ask not for inquiries as to my health or my sanity.

I promise you I’m just as normal as you all

which is both a comfort and a terror, but one that I’m okay with.

But I want you to hear

because that’s all that matters.

And this time I’m going to be brave enough to say it.

About time someone did.

I am desperate.

To wake up.

To breathe.

I don’t even care that it’s mostly nitrogen,

nitrogen that my body does nothing with, only breathes back out,

clinging to the oxygen.

So scattered.

So fragile.

If humans were eggs, the guy at the grocery store would have dropped us all.

I am an egg,

and I need the scalding boiling water of grace.

Hardened but not for hardening’s sake.

Made unbreakable again is all.

I need Your provision like I need air.

Mercy like air.

Peace like air.

Wrap my wounds with love

and be the unfound porcelain dust in the groves of my fallen-off-the-mantle heart.

Chain me back to You.