NPM: Siren Song– Denouement

I am a siren still

And I sing the only song I know

Tenuously suspended

in a liminal space

Part woman, part bird

Flighty, I abhor a cage

And my sharp eye

and flitting bird-heart

Fear its confinement

But perhaps I have shed

A few of these feathers

and become more wholly

a person, not a fable

I sing and hope

for one who knows the perils

and dares anyway

to approach my jagged coastline

To take my hand, taloned as it is

and bear my flaws

Lead me not to a cage,

but to a horizon

And hear me, truly

hear me

Because I sing the only song I know:

My own.

 

NPM: Battle Within

A battle within

relentless rages

breaks the bars

and rattles cages

fumes and furies

storms and rails

batters, bloodies

weeps and wails

 

A battle within

forever churning

never ceasing

brightly burning

blazes up

then smolders, smoking

crying, cursing

shaking, choking

 

A battle within

Unseen, unspoken

No one knows

the soul is broken

Though the tempest

does not cease

None see past

the veneer of peace

Mirror, Mirror

So often, I feel like I’m walking a psychological tightrope. My experiences teach me to be one way, but my heart tells me to be another way. My cold practicality wants to protect myself, insulate myself from pain; my longing to love and be loved forces me to make myself vulnerable. It’s infuriating! I feel torn and I’m the one tearing myself up! I want to be strong and independent and free from emotions…free from caring. The wounds in my heart (still unhealed…how long has it been now?) are like gaping mouths yelling at me, “Don’t let yourself be taken in again! You know what always happens!” But I cannot go along on my own. I can’t. The more walled-off I become, the safer I am, true. But the more desperate I become to feel cared for. The maddening need to be needed!

Foolish, stubborn girl. I want to walk away from her sometimes, this girl who stares back at me in the mirror. I see the look of mild disappointment around her eyes, tucked into the corners of her mouth. But there is no separating us. She knows it; I know it. This is a mutual disappointment. I’m none too pleased with her either.

Auschwitz

Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland

I walk beneath the black iron gateway

Arbeit Macht Frei

Work Makes Us Free

And cold anger settles like mercury in my gut

Horror perches on my shoulder

whispers in my ear

as I walk the death-paths of millions

And I peep into the long low houses

that absolutely no one called home

Finally, I immerse myself into the hell of the gas chamber

I stand near the wall while the guides drone on

in casual tones about what happened here

I can’t blame them

How could they let themselves feel the grief

on every tour, quarter past the hour

But to my left, I hear a low mutter

“Mein Gott…”

I want to see the man beside me

to know that he suffers as I do

but I can’t take my eyes off the scratches in the wall

Nails dragging down the unyielding metal

No one heeding the cry, “Mein Gott!”

When I step out of that room

[They didn’t step out]

The sun is shining

Breaking through the clouds with perseverance

Was this the freedom they earned?

Clawing, screaming, gasping

into the sunny sky

Carried along as black smoke on the wind

I could walk away.

As I near the end of my undergrad degree, I sometimes panic and find myself thinking, “Why, oh WHY, did I sign up for even more school?!”  I know the answer is, “Because I want to be a professor and no one will listen to me if I don’t go to school longer than them.”  Another answer is, “Because I like to learn, and a good place to do that is at school.”  Still another answer: “Because if I become a professor, I will get to have summer, winter, fall, and spring breaks for the rest of my life!”  At times, this final answer is the most compelling.  But in those moments of panic when I feel trapped–when I feel as though I am locked into a car, my foot is on the pedal, and the accelerator is stuck–I remind myself that I can walk away from all of this.  I can.  If at any time I absolutely hate grad school, I can leave.  No one is keeping me here.  No one can pressure me to do this–not my parents, not my professors, not my friends.  I am doing this because deep down, I really do want to.  And if that should change for some reason, I am free to go and move on with my life.  So here’s to choosing, as each new day comes, to stay.