In 2002, I spent 14 days locked in a concrete cell. I was put in nothing more than a thin cotton shirt, and a pair of shorts with holes in the seams. The cell they called “observation” for those deemed to ill-behaved to be out and about with the other girls. I was 16 years old. It was winter in Provo Canyon Utah. The room had 7 concrete walls and a steel door with a small window, in which one could be “observed” through. There was no toilet, no shower, trips to the bathroom were supervised, and showers I gained only when I was conscious enough to respond “yes” when the attendant came by. I was given high doses of sedatives, not because I was acting out, but because I didn’t understand the rules I had just been placed under. The first days in solitary before the drugs, I ran in place, did push ups, sit ups, spent parts of the day doing math in my head, reciting poetry, singing songs, which did not go over well with staff…
The room I was in had only one other window besides the one on the steel door. It was a drafty skylight on the ceiling, 20 feet above from where I sat on the cold hard concrete floor. When the drugs they gave me kicked in, I lost the will to run in place, do push ups, sit ups… all I could do was sit, and during that time, the temperature dropped drastically.
In my haze it was all I could do to sit and stare up at the ceiling, and watch the snow begin to fall on the skylight, fall and drift, fall and drift. My body violently shivered, my lips became chapped, then I noticed my toes, my fingers, begin to turn white, then blue, then purple. I took turns shoving my hands in my mouth in an attempt to keep the feeling in them, warm them any way I could.
It was then I realized, there was nothing I could do about this feeling of cold. My body ached from days of shivering.
And so I retreated to my mind. “What is cold?” I thought. “What is feeling?” I wondered. I took deep breathes, in an attempt to calm the shivering. I focused my mind on what it was that made me shiver, and set it aside. Then I focused on toes, my hands my body, and decided, that being cold was a decision, I had made in my mind. I embraced this notion, “yes, I understand body, this is a feeling, a warning system, and right now there is nothing I can do” I refocused my attention, to my breathing, to holding my body still, to ignoring the stinging pain that shot through me. I moved each toe, I gave each digit gentle massage, while controlling what I though about pain, what I knew about cold. Until suddenly I was just there. I was in a room with my body. Cold was a thought, this is not cold enough to kill me, so I need to push out this feeling, and attend to the needs of my extremities.
I did this until I fell asleep, deep in meditation sitting up against the wall. I learned that my mind is more powerful than my body, and that after a while if you can sit with yourself, find the power within, there is no such thing as cold, there is only you, there is only ever you.
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening –
Poem by Robert Frost
“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
I wish my title mouth could give you a brief description of what my life story has to say.
I wish my bruised ego showed on the purples of my face and I could show you what’s behind my sleeping eyes…those dreams I’ve been plagued with like disease.
I wish you could take that away, I wish I could take them from you…
I wish my fate was written like it is in the palm of my hand, all faded and unreadable, so I remember not to rely on that kind of thing.
All I wanted was to paint the sky, the way it looks in your eyes, all the brilliance of blue and the sadness of grey, those hues I wish to only paint away.
I want to replace the devil with a sweeter embrace.
I want to hold the world against my heart again, with its stabbing sadness and bleeding sores and I don’t care if its love infects me to have a friend…
I’ll say goodbye, if it means I get to say hello to you again.
It’s not a somber thing to loose a thing you never stood to gain.
I see the light in your darkness, and the darkness is my friend so I reach for him too, only to be lost in that cold embrace.
They call me winter, they say I make the summer sun shone brighter but my pale skin hasn’t seen the world in days.
You say you like the way my capillaries play. They gleam because I have you under my skin.
I wish you could see the space behind my eyes, the synopsis that light my way, I wish I could use their embers to carry a torch into the symphony of passage ways I see when I look at you.
Days like this pass quickly, and I unfortunately am familiar with their somber song.
It goes like this:
Everyday is the same, driving down the steady lane
Until a stranger stops you in your tracks and uses their hands to use your heart
They usher you to far off places, regions unexplored by the bravest soul
So they don’t have to die alone.
What a selfish thing to do.
They dive in the shallow end, and we dive with them, as helpless fools,
we loose our hands to destroy our fall,
And there we end, two fools in shallow water, trying to breath the blood bath we’ve created
Life’s messy, and when I swallow the taste of iron and water it fills my soul, and allows me to sleep.
It’s just a melancholy dream. A macabre and distant play that haunts my dreams shadows my face.
A drowning and a dying I don’t care to erase.
She sits in silence amongst the leaves Her eyes are steady her breath at ease Her patient palms set on her bow Feet firmly planted, and head set low The huntress waits and stalks her prey Night after night, and into day Her vision grows weak, her hopes turns to sorrow Each day she prays for a better tomorrow Until all at once she sees The glint of something among the trees She steadies herself, she takes to her aim Within her heart there is a flame The deer and huntress lock in gaze A noble opponent in the morning haze The huntress sees this crown-ed buck, the velvet hair which hay has stuck Her hands are weak, her eyes they close and this is how the huntress goes Laying in a field of honeydew Her stomach thin and overdue A meal her lips shall never taste Her prize is lost, as is the chase
When my mind wanders and I hear an unfamiliar sound above me I begin to worry about unrealistic daydreams… like bears fighting on my roof.
Or the concern that I can’t draw a bear because I can’t conceptualize its face…
But the real worry, naturally, is it’s weight on the slates of the rooftop.
How will the planks sustain such a quarrel between two such fearsome creatures?
I worry about the gravel, the sharp stones atop the tar burying themselves between the soft skin of each tender pad. It would truly be a source of annoyance, and furthermore a sore spot ripe for infection that could possibly lead to its ultimate demise.
For it’s own sake, someone should really get those bears off the roof…
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She levitates delicately above the blue haze of her consciousness.
Taking only fleeting moments to indulge her senses in earthly pleasures.
With eyes closed time passes slowly.
Everyday blurs into the sameness that fades and drags her inevitably back to ground.
Cars hum by,
tires kiss wet asphalt,
the wind gently rustling her hair, tangling her thoughts,
sweeping with it cold that kisses across bitter chapped lips
Where does this road go?
Will everyday make it’s long procession slowly
into a quiet oblivion,
an oblivion that will turn greens to gold and wither away with the passing days
She loftily yearns for the brightly burning passions of her youth, but the memories are sharp,
jaded by the fiery sting of hard won battles, wrong turns and scars.
Time stands still.
Hours hang meaninglessly leaving wide gaps between what once was
and what will be.
It’s time to push the clock forward.
The radio repeats the same song, skipping and fading into low slow static.
The static creates a hum
that lulls her back to sleep,
back into closed-eyed levitation,
where does this road lead?
They call it hippie, they say radical in the late 1950’s witches brew of conservatism
All I can hear is terror.
All I can hear is fear.
Charlie can you hear me, I’m calling you.
Charlie this drinks for you…
The governments mime action, the people demand justice
The crowds march but who are the victims here?
Those that stand for what they believe in
They are gone now, wasted by the true animals
Wasted by the violence
Can you hear me Charlie,
This drinks for you.