Life in the Grotto


Life in the Grotto

Dark, dank, it holds history.
It has risen, fallen, fallen into disrepair.
Stones have been carted off to build their frankenhouses.
Bandits have hovered in the night
waiting to separate their Victorian adventurers from their purses.
The homeless have huddled here,
tiny fires smudging the walls in the Roman night.
Today tourists come
to gape at the circus home of the famous and fallen.

You come too
and the grotto feels all too familiar.
The dampness seeps into your bones.
The broken statue feels eerily familiar,
eerily like yourself, not quite whole.

You wait for the demons.
They live here. They always have,
even the great Augustus had them,
creatures of the night, gentle and brutal,
capable of murdering marble,
the leavers of wounds.

There is an altar in the grotto.
You are tempted to pray,
to sprinkle the holy water that seeps down the wall
into the air like some pagan baptism.

But you do not.
This is what you have learned.
The demons live within
and that is where the battle is fought,
with or without tourists,
so you can see this grotto for what it is,
a thing of history,
incapable of holding you.

About this poem

The picture is of the Emperor Augustus’ home in Rome on Palatine Hill overlooking the forum. Augustus was the first emperor of Rome.

I began writing this blog eleven or twelve years ago as therapy, literally. My therapist wanted me to begin writing again, believing righty that I needed to write to find my way through my darkest times. She also, again rightly, understood that I would probably not do it if I had to do it for myself. But if I put it “out there”, I would feel responsible to continue, even if I only had a couple of regular readers.  In the beginning, that’s all I had.

Those of you who have read me for a while have been my tourists, sharing my staggering journey with me. Thank you for not being scared away. The demons are a smaller lot, knowing you are looking.

I believe that.



  1. Writing is very therapeutic. When I was young, oh so many years ago, I wrote letters weekly. I was one of those annoying people who always answered letters right away! But then came email and I stopped having a reason to write. Just last year I finally felt compelled to put my grievances on paper. I had intended to send them to my brother. Somehow I needed him to know some of the stuff that happened to me. – I always felt misjudged by my tiny family. However in the end I sent a very edited version and it sufficed. Writing it seemed to offload it from my brain and that is when I had the life-changing notion that I should abandon WA State and return to NY. I am still astounded at how life has changed.
    Very glad tohave found your blog among all the other great changes!

    • Writing does off load things off our brain. Like I so often say: Therapy. I am glad you finding your return to NY a good thing. I know I have come to love my little corner of Vermont, not far down the road from Cambridge. There’s a lot of peace and acceptance here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s