Poem: Ten Degrees


Ten Degrees

Ten degrees and falling.
The wind is blowing, bitter and cold,
A reminder of Christmas’ past,
some joyful, some cruel and empty as a February sun.
The heat in the house barely keeping up
with the isidious cold that seeps through the clapboards.

Today you surrender.
You surrender to the cold,
to the blackness that hovers, always hovers
just out of sight,
held at bay by fierceness and anger,
hard work for an old man.

You surrender and let the cold darkness swallow you.
There is no one here to protect from your demons,
no one close at hand to alarm
as you slide into submission and become for a few short hours
what you might have been forever.

Ah, the seductive bliss of it!
The rest.
The descent without care, without effort,
the rare intelude of tranqulity,
so yearned for,
yet so rare.

You allow the liar to win

a temporary victory,
but no more.
For rest is not your lot.
You are too hungry for life,
too hungry for joy, too ravenous
for the good your enemy would deny you,
and you know that deep inside,
hidden by the illusion of submission
there is a fire
worth tending.

Ten degrees and falling.
Let the winter believe it has won.
For now.
Only for now, for tomorrow you will don your coat
and walk into the snow and ice,
a fiery furnace,
a thing of heat and light
stronger than spring
and just as determined.

About this poem

I have written, both here and in my latest book, about how depression is a constant battle, and the hard work of it (and the value of that work.). Sometimes though, I surrender. Just for a few hours. I let the sadness and sense of weakness wash over me and simply lay there and let it pummel me.

Yesterday (Yes, Christmas) was such a day. Both of my kids worked yesterday. The house was empty most of the day and I let myself slide into that dark place.

That may sound like a bad thing, but it’s not. Because it is the only time of rest I get. So, when I have a few hours completely alone, where my darkness will not affect anyone but me, I give in. I live in the emotional blackness.

And then I pull myself out. And surprisingly, I come out stronger.

Rest is a wonderful thing.


PS: The picture was taken near Shelburne, Vermont.

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