What a Difference a Day Makes

July 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Look for the bird

I was feeling suicidal yesterday, in mental shackles I couldn’t unlock, and despairing about how the depression deepens and begins to speak with my tongue, dream my dreams, operate my hands and feet. Dopey girls on phones in the elevator are lucky I don’t have a gun and that my testosterone levels are low; it seems entirely right to share the pain with bullets, a fist, or to simply explode like an IED.

While the one I am so angry at cannot be touched, for he is loved, and that is magical. I’d sooner die, and think I might. (I also believe I’m as much or more to blame than he; there is such a thing as love addiction—mine—and he’s allowed his own quota of crazy.)

But fear not: I went to a small meeting of seven sad folk, AA/mood disorders, and they spent a long time reading the Second Tradition, which is about how AA has no leaders, never has, never should, and how of course many people get prideful and think to lead, but are always brought back down to the common level.

This isn’t always so, of course, but in that small room, with 7 people fighting lifelong severe depression, it was true. I felt an immense calm come over me. In every aspect of my life now, I feel compulsion; I feel ruled and driven; and if the shackles are of my own devising, so what? They still bite. But for an hour I was free of them. No one dominated me. And I remembered—this is what life used to be like almost always, even when I was unhappy…a certain level of ordinary human freedom…this cage I’m in, is there an exit?

Perhaps.

Success Comes To Cow Creek

I sit on the tracks,
a hundred feet from
earth, fifty from the
water. Gerald is
inching toward me
as grim, slow, and
determined as a
season, because he
has no trade and wants
none. It’s been nine months
since I last listened
to his fate, but I
know what he will say:
he’s the fire hydrant
of the underdog.

When he reaches my
point above the creek,
he sits down without
salutation, and
spits profoundly out
past the edge, and peeks
for meaning in the
ripple it brings. He
scowls. He speaks: when you
walk down any street
you see nothing but
coagulations
of shit and vomit,
and I’m sick of it.
I suggest suicide;
he prefers murder,
and spits again for
the sake of all the
great devout losers.

A conductor’s horn
concerto breaks the
air, and we, two doomed
pennies on the track,
shove off and somersault
like anesthetized
fleas, ruffling the
ideal locomotive
poised on the water
with our light, dry bodies.
Gerald shouts
terrifically as
he sails downstream like
a young man with a
destination. I
swim toward shore as
fast as my boots will
allow; as always,
neglecting to drown.

James Tate

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