Monday, February 22, 2010

Do We All Just Walk Around Like That? (Failure, Part Tres)

If it's true that we each have Imposter Syndrome to some degree or another--that we are all just walking around, desperately concealing the jaundiced skeletons of our failed selves behind our nicely costumed personas, then who's running the world? Probably the over-confident, the deluded, and the under-skilled.

This is a Public Service Announcement: If you are reading this and are sad, or concerned that one day you may feel sad, this poem is for you. It's not a literary poem. It is not poet-approved and will be described as "over-written"; perhaps even "overwrought", by proper poets with degrees. But I didn't write it for them. I wrote it for people who might be running out of hope. I wrote if for whoever you may be out there who finds it, and if you hear it, maybe you'll understand that you're not alone.

I promise. You're not alone.


I am here, my daughter, my twin, my beloved one.
I wait for you at the crest of the bridge.
I wait
To return to you
The lessons of your scars,
The salt-blood of your wounds,
The ash of your poems,
The voltage of your rage.
They will pour their shame over you like a toxin.
They will rip the sacred from you like a bad gland.
They will laugh at you as you starve,
And hand them the last heal of meat.
They will seal your ears with the grout of their hatred.
You will hear only the echo of their contempt.
Your voice will break like a frayed wire.
God will look away in boredom,
As all your prayers congeal in your throat like cold oil,
And even the best of your talismans fail you.

But I am here, my exiled one, my drowning child.
My arms have no task but to embrace you.
I wait
With the bright bounty
Of every missed banquet,
With the brine of your tears,
With the omens you missed,
With the love you cast off.
Slowly, you will peel off your own nurturing flesh
To plaster your sleek blank bones with silicone dreams.
And when at last you have become
Everything they’ve always wanted,
Your only reward will be your long enslavement.
Your poison and your medicine will be the same.
You’ll bolt the door against the light.
And then the fall; the nightmare drop--
You just go, your eyes jammed up against the blackness,
Your fingers scrabbling for purchase in the numb air.

Still I will wait, holding forgiveness like the moon.
To receive you is my only calling.
And yours:
To make this journey
Back to what you have lost,
The solace denied you,
Your long-frozen grief,
The rites you’ve forgotten.
You will miss every rope of light tossed down to you,
And the metaphors of poems that could save you
Will evade your comprehension.
And every sacred chant you knew
Will croak from your mouth like the grunt of a sick dog.
Lost in the gray alchemy of your despair,
You will drift
With the others as dead as you.
Your loving them will make you lonelier by half,
And there will be nothing beautiful about you.

I wait, with all things lost in the turning of time.
When you, my sister, finally find me
The joy
Will break us open.
Know that I will accept
Even the dust of you.
I have nothing but time.
Your birthright is with me.
You will be granted provisions and unused prayers,
Not by the angels, but by those you most despise.
And slowly you will start to hear
The palest whisper of my voice,
As you stagger homeward, foul on your shredded feet,
With your exhausted amulets, your crippled heart,
Beyond hope and beyond wanting.
Then, at last, the reclamation:
When you will remember, finally, who you are.
God will blink his lazy eye, and gaze upon you.

--Kristen McHenry

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