Friday Flashback: …and where will we hide when it comes from inside?

I‘m sure just about every reader of this blog has either experienced first hand, or known and loved someone who has experienced, that feeling of powerlessness and anxiety that comes when the Noonday Demon exerts an influence over everything you/they do. You can tell yourself that what you’re feeling is irrational, you can list and analyze what you’re stressed about and appreciate that there’s no point in getting dragged down, but it happens nonetheless. The Demon poisons you from inside.Two years ago when I was last going through a period of great anxiety, I wrote the poem below. I’m feeling much the same way now, so I thought I would reprise it as this week’s Friday Flashback. I offer it not in a search for sympathy, but as an explanation to those I love for why I seem suddenly testy, apprehensive and disengaged, and as an expression of understanding for others who knowthese feelings all too well. See you on the other side.


three am:
i’m haunted by a vague sense of dread

so i get up and stare out the back window:
the wind is gusting
and it’s the coldest night of the year —
i wonder how the juncos and chickadees are faring
feathers fluffed up against the blowing snow

i put on my snowsuit and trudge out
around the bird feeders and down the hill towards the forest

in the middle of our ‘toboggan hill’ i stop, plunk down in the snow
and just gaze out into the darkness, listening

other than the wind i hear only
the rustling of the trees
and the low-pitched hoots of an owl, talking to herself
or perhaps warning me not to disturb her nightly prowl

worrythese days i worry about everything:
i drew the self-portrait at right to show the worry lines
around my eyes that i can’t see but which i feel —
they are a part of me always

i worry about keeping things together:
there is such a thin veil between civility and rage,
between hanging in and giving up,
between composure and madness

we don’t dare show who we really are

i worry about not knowing what i’m meant to do
now, or ever,
and not doing enough to find out, as if
by waiting, my intended purpose
will announce itself to me, with trumpet fanfare
and i’ll be escorted along the well-marked path
from wherever i am now, to that magic place
where those i’m meant to work with, and to love
will greet me, cheering, asking “where were you?”
and “what took you so long, we’ve been waiting

hah! yet still i wait here, paralyzed
and not knowing why:
nowhere to go

“the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting”,
eliot said — the fool, the coward

i worry about all the creatures in the world
who live miserable, captive lives, without hope:
their suffering haunts me night and day
far more than that of those who know they are mistreated,
who know the world is unfair

it is for those unknowing, all of them, and us, who can’t imagine
a better life that i cry
when i hear art garfunkel sing “bright eyes
for the dying rabbit in watership down

i worry for the generation after next:
they will learn to live
with monstrous debts that aren’t their own,
the careless legacy of those who came before

but mostly i worry about letting people down:
we are driven, after all, more by what others expect of us
than by our own compass
and somehow all we do, or try to do
is never good enough

the snow’s picked up
and now i’m shivering, so i rise
and climb back to the house, to make some tea
and sit by the fire, and wonder:
how did we lose our way? —
at seventeen, i knew, we knew, what we had to do
and how to go about it,

so what terrible knowledge intervened
to send us so off course?

why can we no longer hear
the quiet, certain voices that inform
the march of the penguins,
telling our wretched species
how to find the way home?

thanks to fellow Slogger meg at blogcabin for the inspiration
and to jt for the title; photo from my flickr collection

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3 Responses to Friday Flashback: …and where will we hide when it comes from inside?

  1. Mariella says:

    the answer my friend….is blowing in the wind….

  2. Don’t you dare give up Dave Pollard. I believe in u.

  3. Dave, after a long hiatus from your blog I find this post touching me. Thanks for that.Having just brought a small puppy into my home my wife and I are finding out how dogs live: emotionally and in the moment. You cannot hide your feelings from a dog. It is a challenge to face such non-judgmental exposure. Your post here is similar for me. Generative.Be well,Bill

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