Monday, May 4, 2015

Memoir Monday: Exhibit A

I believe that May is a mental health awareness month. In that spirit, I'm posting some poetry I wrote when OCD and depression started wreaking major havoc in my teens and early twenties. Questions are welcome.

I was wandering the vast garden of my mind

when a lowly wren perched upon the ledge of a wall.
“Do,” it said.
So I did.
Again and again I passed the wall, counting the stones
in pairs of threes, no fours and especially no twos.
Yet this was not enough.
“Do!” said the bird, its feathers ruffled.
So I did.
I stepped backwards, counting in threes and fives,
until I thought I would lose my mind.
I counted, I fretted, and again spoke the wren,
now transformed into a jay:
Conditioned to do, I did.
I picked every weed from the crags and the nooks,
and picked and picked until my fingers bled.
Yet this was still not enough.
“Do!” said the bird, now a raven with stony eyes.
I scrubbed each stone in threes and fives,
No fours and especially no twos,
in threes and fives,
no fours and especially no twos.
Waiting for the next command, I looked up at the eagle,
It’s eyes as black as the depths of its soul.
“Do!” it shrieked.
Weary I fell,
fell to the ground,
and pulled out a stone from the cragged wall and threw it at the bird,
now a vulture, and missed.
It laughed and it crowed until I bled
and lay there dead, dead in the soul,

in the vast garden of my mind next to the ledge of a wall.


What in this abyss
But water to choke on
And pardon—
Reckless passions within
My marrow that Christ
Has pardoned
Yet dull and jade
Me in the same,
Wrenching the very
Life from my young
Drawing life in surplus
Leaving ice shards in
My chest,
Which heaves and
Sinks with burning
Of this intensity
Which holds my
Mind in chains
That bind and stroke
The last piece
Of my sanity,
Which He forgave,
This wretched piece,
This anguished creature
Trapped in the walls of her
Own brain:
the rat on the wheel,
the bird in the cage,
the flame ’neath the jar,
the free man in chains,
the firmness in madness,
the hopeful in hopeless
And dullness that ebbs
And the corrosion that builds
And destroys as sanity
And madness crumble
Together in the womb—
And I cannot.
Break, break, break the poet
Tarnished songs ring
Through my head,
Break, break, break,
And broken here I dwell:
My mind in conflict
Within its two-folds
And empty and full desires,
For I am confused
And, though pardoned,
I loose myself
When I try to demonstrate
The same:
I am of a simile,
And not whole to a metaphor
In tunnel view.
Who knows? 


  1. Those are really amazing. Gut-wrenching and I can completely see your anguish--you've captured it so well.

  2. Thanks, Meradeth. Yeah, that was a really dark time.