Defeated

The last thing I do in the evening
is respectfully set my ideals out
by the neighborhood’s recycling bin
and the first thing I do in the morning
is cry
because when I want to say “I love you”
what comes out is “You make me so angry that I just can’t even…”
(silence interspersed with anger)

I fight the wind
constantly trying to tie the family sails
but my gremlin follows close behind me
untying them again
giggling
and then he breaks all the windows
and stands the shards in the snow
all around my heart
so that I run into them
as I grope in the dark

He stands before me
grinning that sharp-toothed smile
and pretends that he doesn’t understand me
and swears again that he will never return to me
my loved one
never
marbles in the pocket of his
child-sized corduroy overalls

I sat in the dojo empty-handed.
I wanted to rehearse with my sword
but had realized that again I didn’t understand it.
Yes, you can define your space
with that swiftly slicing line and its blazing point
but the sword is not a thing of childish identity
and it’s not strong to make yourself
by making a moat around you
by avoiding everything that challenges you
by insulating yourself with a layer of vacuum.
What’s really strong is to keep that point moving
like a firefly that flits through the woods
appearing to light and dim again
as it passes amidst the branches
letting in and letting go,
balance constantly correcting
like breathing

I will find you in the dark, by Brian Murphy

no, I’m no good at breathing

So I left my sword in its case
and instead sat empty-handed
and then practiced my rolls,
soft and silent.
A classmate sat and watched me,
himself soft and silent,
so I smiled at him
soft and silent
and then he studied me
and appeared to rest.
Finally he said,
“It’s really nice to see your smile.”

How can it be? I wondered.
It must be some kind of miracle
because I am resoundingly
abjectly
utterly
defeated.

*

This poem honors all the families that are caring for a someone with mental illness. This poem refers to Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “The Man Watching.”

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