Poem: Exist

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Exist

Behind you are gardens, lush from May rains,
impossibly green, punctuated with flowers.
In front of you is a bridge, brutalist concrete,
a phallic finger that pushes into the sea.
Waves caress the stone seawall.

The ocean is calm today.
Boats bob in the distance.
Fishing goes on. The pleasure kind,
It is a postcard day, the sun warm, the day bright.
You sit. Still, eyes closed, breathing deep and slow.

There is graffiti on the bridge.
Not the marker of gangs or crowdspeak,
a single soul, a single word, “Exist” in white paint.
A rally call? A challenge? A call of desperation,
some lost soul on the brink of not?

It is out of place here,
in this place of manicured gardens and perfect paths,
of sea walls sculpted and perfectly banked.
“Exist”
A raw call. A plea. A promise. A need.
It’s raw white script burns into your brain
as you sit in the morning sun.

The time once was when you had ceased to,
almost.
You breathed. You functioned. Barely.
You were lost, a body, little more.
Now and again the demons of that time still haunt you.
It was the worst of times, and yet, you are grateful, for
that time of mere existence preserved the raw remains
just enough for the miracle,
for life’s spring to take hold,

and now ten years later you live in the garden.
not this place with its patterns and perfection,
but a wild English garden, mixed and mad and uncommonly bright,
fragrant. and possible only because you survived
when you had no right to, when surrender was the logical choice
of your black, rotted mind,
when all you could do,
in fact,
was exist.

About this poem

The picture was taken in Quincy, Massachusetts this past weekend.

It’s been quite the journey, this last fifteen years. Some of it bleak. Some of it, like the time I am in now, beautiful.

Tom

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