The pains of the past are phantom limbs,
You never know where they end and you begin,
And at the times when you are most low,
They start to tingle to let you know,
That they are still there for you to feel,
Even though they are not real,
At least not in the sense that you can see,
Phantom limbs the whole of me,
And how they have a hold of me,
And shape each and everything I can see,
Even though they are blinding me,
For each time that I think that I am free,
They drag me back down to my knees,
If only I could sever these ties,
Of these parts of me which I despise,
But for that to happen I would have to let go,
The shades of me I never show,
The things I carry in my heavy heart,
These things that tore my world apart,
And made me feel something more than numb,
These phantom limbs and I are one,
Let them be my last embrace,
A phantom hand over my face,
To shut my mouth and close my eyes,
And wipe away the tears and hush my cry,
Emerging from this hole in me,
Phantom limbs take hold of me.
The pains of the past are phantom limbs,
Every day a midnight hour,
Not a place for fragile flowers,
Beauty is a broken bone,
The emptiness that we call home,
No shelter from the falling rain,
Numbness need to numb the pain,
Searching for a void to see,
Whatever is inside of me,
I know that I am not empty,
But I feel as though I need to be,
Thistles and thorns inside my heart,
Every beat that pulls apart,
The seams of the whole of me,
Leaving another hole in me,
But it’s the color of the world I see,
That manifests this tragedy,
All because I can see the beauty in,
Each and every breath I take,
Even though inside I ache,
For something so much more than this,
But I will never know what that is,
Until it ends and curtains close,
Feeling thorns for every rose,
Maybe that is what it was meant to be,
A price to pay for such beauty.
With what lies ahead it almost makes me feel guilty that I know that I will be alright, that my life, while changed, will be okay, and that I will continue to find myself early in the mornings having been awoken by the sound of birds and leaves rustling outside my bedroom window, that life outside of myself will continue to go on. And still, I cannot shake the impending sense that this is all only a calm before a storm. Life; which I believe to be circular, well, sometimes the old wounds come around again too, and some mistakes cannot be taken back, even the ones we have no control over.
I can hear the rain pouring over the roof of the house and I find it so soothing, I adore how it makes the world seem a little smaller somehow. For the past few days the spring rain has been steady. But on this morning, about an hour before the sun will rise, my attention and the beat of my heart are only beating a little faster because of the sound which accompanies the beauty of the falling rain, a low roar of rolling thunder is humming along the horizon, I cannot begin to explain the effect that it holds over me, or why I’ve always been at my most peaceful and most restless, most primal and most humane than when it storms. I doubt I ever will. I close my eyes.
Now that I have had a few days of much needed rest I can return to a state of introspection, funny that, funny how I never really leave that place, nobody ever really does, that little voice of you is always present, always filling you with doubt, with fear, with love, with hate, with pity, with pleasure and with pain, the mind is both a cage and a place without walls, and mostly mine is filled with poetry and horror, pity and rage, roses and arsenic. Thorns and thistles abound the waking world. In moments the world around me is little more than a series of still pictures, as though I lacked the animus to do little else than to observe and muse thoughts that will never mean anything to anyone other than myself, for I never give voice to what it is I really feel, even to myself and that’s the most tragic thing about it. And even if I were afforded the time and the medium in which to do so, I’m not sure that I could, if I would, if I could ever lay myself bare, truly.
I linger outside and shut tight my eyes to breathe in that intoxicating scent of the night air after the rain. Something about it stirs something within me, a little voice that aches to be moving if only for the sake of movement, to let my compass point north and nowhere else, I can almost see myself taking the steps through the endless bog, trekking through the badlands, how the terrain changes from mud to stone to a seemingly infinite row of trees along the horizon, the air will become thicker, the world will grow both smaller and larger in the very same breath, miles from anywhere, where there are no houses, no roads, no dark places to hide where people cast the burden of heavy shadows. The further I would go the more I would shed of myself, of what I’ve led myself to believe was me, in time I would be stripped of ego, and yet somehow I would be left with the only thing that I fear most in this world, I would finally know who it is that I really am after all. I look at the bright light of the moon as it is swaddled in the listless clouds, tonight I do not even gaze upon the stars and only contemplate moonlight.
I turn the bottle amid my fingers. The bottle has been empty for a little under a week. Tomorrow I will get yet another little, green, plastic bottle and it will have just enough pills to line barely a fifth of the volume of the bottle itself, there will be sixty pills in all, I am expected to take two of the sixty pills each night for the next thirty days until again I will have to have the bottle filled once more. The pills themselves are small, circular, orange in color and act a sedative, in fact, they are a low dosage of a medication used to control psychotics or people afflicted with similar afflictions. The two pills that I will take will put me into a state of dreary and foggy sleep, and when I awake I will roll onto my side, search the dark of my room for a lighter in which to have my first cigarette of the day, after which I will sit up and use whatever I have left in my canteen to wash down two more pills, one will be oblong in appearance, larger than the antipsychotic, a brighter orange too, and along with this pill I will take a larger blue pill, also oblong, both have the same metallic taste that I always make sure to let sit on my tongue as though it had some kind of placebo effect which is funny because I can assure you that they are both medicinal in nature, it’s these pills that regulate my mood and keep me from sinking into that familiar abyss of the mind known as depression. This has been my ritual for the past two years, since the accident, since I had different pills in my system that were washed down by about twenty or so ounces of whiskey, where I can still recall losing control of the vehicle as it began to swerve on the highway in the morning in Canada, and that was followed by the bursting glass and then I could see only the face of the rock as I sat upside down in the driver’s seat before I unbuckled it and crawled out of the vehicle and stumbled down the road as a small group of onlookers tried to help me before I laid eyes on a green van filled with a family of five, two young girls and a boy with their parents, a family of five that I could’ve killed with my foolishness. I know all of this, I carry it in my heart and in my head and yet in the past few months I’ve been drinking again. Am I weak or do I just want to feel that way?
I won’t be sleeping tonight, again, in a few hours the sun will rise, the birds will begin to chirp outside of my bedroom window, the wind will spill in from off the lake and the day will begin anew. Only the day and time itself will be just as it always has been for me, elusive and perplexing. And maybe someday I will be an old man sitting in my chair as my mind begins to shut down as I watch the world around me continue to go on. Maybe I will have more answers than questions or vice versa. Maybe I will have found peace or learned to hold the moments of peace within myself as I am learning to do so now, this very moment while I sit and go over the thoughts in my head in this life that leads me. I close my eyes for a moment before they open again.
- Hostility or ill feeling.
- Motivation to do something.
That maddening scent of spring hasn’t left me. After the harshness of the winter passed and the earth, the soil and the roots of trees are again naked it almost feels as though I can see shades of autumn in reverse, soon the green will return and cycle will begin anew and the waters will be still no more. And all of this is stirring something within me.
I spend so much of time quickening the beat of my heart. Even now as I push on through the last remnants of fallen snow I feel quite at ease with it, at peace with my way of being. The early evening sky is clear for the most part with only the occasional lackadaisical cloud to brush against the setting sun. Without much prompt or forethought I leave the beaten path and cut through the trees. Only a few days ago I could see the light of day as it revealed the silk of what I have to believe are tree worms, but today I see nothing but fallen pine of orange and reddish hues. I stop along the bottom of a hill and turn to wait for my companion for the day, the lithe and energetic Frost, a female of both Rottweiler and Labrador breeding. I clap my hands to get her attention before we move on. I keep a steady pace over the changing ground until we find ourselves at the mouth of a smaller cove. After I push through a thatch of brush I take a few steps onto the ice of the frozen lake and although I’m in no danger that I can see I can still feel the sheets of thick ice bracing my weight and crackle while we continue our trek. After all, we’re tracking something, and I have a feeling I know just where we’re going. So, through the reeds near the shore and onward we move until I see it. I keep my eyes on my feet to mind the ice but my peripheral vision leads my attention to the small pool of water amid the ice of the lake. I spot a branch stripped of its bark and I take a knee and wait. My dog sniffs about, curious; I turn and glance over my shoulder as she seems to be catching a scent near the mouth of the den. I smile, but in the back of my thoughts I’m not entirely certain that we are entirely out of harm’s way. I had thought I spotted a track that should have given me pause earlier. At first I thought the track merely belonged to Frank but as we moved along I began to go over its shape, the pad of the paw was much too large, much too large to belong to anything other than a bear. A crack in the distance pulls me out of my contemplation and finally I see the beaver break the surface of the water.
When I emerge from my bedroom the room is still filled with smoke. I close my eyes and breathe it in deeply. I can feel both my body and mind lessen any tension and in my thoughts I am instantly taken to a place I couldn’t ever describe but feels like home. Sage, sage and bear root are the scent which permeate the room. These scents will always remind me of my father.
I can’t keep myself focused but it doesn’t matter. My appetite for satiating needs unknown still have me pouring over things I wish to have a better understanding of. I read about mathematics, I read about quantum physics out of sheer curiosity even though I lack the proverbial tools to comprehend everything I take in, and finally I start to read about the life of Voltaire while switching between a novel I’m reading and poetry from a long time ago. It’s the damned spring air; it never ceases to put me in a state of formlessness. And although I know this feeling will pass and soon I will not be able to be still for a breath or two I can’t say that I don’t enjoy it, that I don’t appreciate this heightened sense of curiousness. And with the lights down low in the late night or early morning I keep on pouring over the works of greater minds until finally the fatigue sets in.
I hold her hand. Only this time her hand is warm and not cold. This time there isn’t a feeling of helplessness, hopelessness and a complete crumbling of my world. I close my eyes and listen to her breathing as it mixes with the sound of the steady wind outside. Not meditation, no, I want to be here for this moment and not far away nor retreat into the void, I want to just be in this moment while I hold the hand of my mother as she sleeps. Sometimes life is oddly circular.
A quiet roar of the rush of the wind is still palpable amid my senses. There is something I find so calming about it. I could swear in my dreams this morning I heard a familiar noise. And how strange a feeling it was to be within my mind, within my thoughts as though I closed my eyes within a dream and painted a picture with only sound as a guide. And what I heard – I heard thunder. I heard thunder and peace.