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“tell my beloved I’ll be his/once I am stripped of all atoms.”

March 13, 2012

I feel a deep sort of loneliness. Something deeply in my soul. If you’re familiar with the work of W.B. Yeats, the Irish poet, he writes about a king out of the Irish myth cycle, Fergus. Fergus gives up his throne for love for a year and, when it’s time to come back, gives it up yet again. He goes wandering in the woods and meets a Druid and decides he’s going to learn all he can and seek some greater, deeper knowledge. The path of wisdom is a lonely one. I think I’m beginning to feel as if I’ve set out on this perilous path, something fraught with obstacles, not the least of which is my own indifference and surrender. Something is close to being within my grasp and I’m terrified of losing it. I’ve spent seven years putting everything else on hold for this. I’ve told myself time and time again that, after this is over, life can begin. And now I’m terrified. I wake up in the middle of the night scared. I have trouble going to sleep, walking alone, eating. I think any little thing will do me harm. My surroundings feel unfamiliar. My memories are strange. I feel like I’m forgetting who I am.

I’m scared. Every minute of every day is filled with an unexplainable dread. I feel a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and nothing makes me feel safe. I feel like weeping. I feel like making myself vomit.

I’m closing in on myself more and more. I spent my 26th birthday alone, due to a series of miscommunications with a few of the people who love me best. It was sad. Part of me was relieved, though, at the idea of staying home. Of not having to leave the safe confines of my apartment. I dread being on the train lately. I’m afraid to be surrounded by people, to get stuck underground, to suffer some sort of calamity away from safety. I think even my meals are out to get me, though I’ve never had an allergic reaction in my life. I’m afraid all the time.

My uncle died two weeks ago. Suddenly, unexpectedly. The hour before the call came in, telling us he wouldn’t last long, I woke up terrified. The blood left my arms and legs and settled in my stomach. My hands felt cold, numb. I couldn’t calm myself down. I thought I should go to the hospital.

Eventually I went back to sleep. Eventually the call came.

People ask, all the time when someone dies, “were you close?”. And it’s a strange, almost impossible question to answer. How can you not be close to someone you saw all the time, someone who was around as you grew up, someone who brought you to parades, and high school auditions and tests, someone who picked you up from Port Authority the first time you came back from visiting your sister seven hours upstate? Someone who is a constant. Someone who is constantly kind to you, to your mother. I don’t think there’s a way to qualify close or not close in circumstances like these.

It was a relief to cocoon myself at home with my parents. To try to take care of my mother and ease her own (unfounded) guilt, anxiety, and dread.

What’s most frightening about what the next two months will bring is what I know will be waiting for me. I fled into my education after taking a year to ‘get myself together’. A year I spent sleeping all day, talking to strangers all night, and taking valium to calm my jitters. I fled from the memory of the only person I’ve ever been in love with, someone who abused my trust in them. I fled from my failings as a friend to two different people who deserved so much better than all that I could not give them. I fled from the memory of Something Happening to Me, because I still do not have the words, in any language, to process how it’s robbed me of comfort and how it continues to wrench me away from my body at the most intimate, the most inopportune moments.

Something happened. Things are happening. Things have to be laid to rest. This is how you mourn. This is how you grieve. This is how you move forward.

I plan to spend the next two weeks telling my stories. Opening the vault. Participating in a project called Scintilla, telling stories via a series of prompts.

I need to open Pandora’s Box and try to come out alive. Scathed, I’m sure, but alive and intact.

Will you see me through to the end?

Who Goes With Fergus

“Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.
And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all disheveled wandering stars.”

Fergus and The Druid


This whole day have I followed in the rocks,
And you have changed and flowed from shape to shape,
First as a raven on whose ancient wings
Scarcely a feather lingered, then you seemed
A weasel moving on from stone to stone,
And now at last you wear a human shape,
A thin grey man half lost in gathering night.

What would you, king of the proud Red Branch kings?

This would I Say, most wise of living souls:
Young subtle Conchubar sat close by me
When I gave judgment, and his words were wise,
And what to me was burden without end,
To him seemed easy, So I laid the crown
Upon his head to cast away my sorrow.

What would you, king of the proud Red Branch kings?

A king and proud! and that is my despair.
I feast amid my people on the hill,
And pace the woods, and drive my chariot-wheels
In the white border of the murmuring sea;
And still I feel the crown upon my head

What would you, Fergus?

Be no more a king
But learn the dreaming wisdom that is yours.

Look on my thin grey hair and hollow cheeks
And on these hands that may not lift the sword,
This body trembling like a wind-blown reed.
No woman’s loved me, no man sought my help.

A king is but a foolish labourer
Who wastes his blood to be another’s dream.

Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams;
Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round.

I See my life go drifting like a river
From change to change; I have been many things —
A green drop in the surge, a gleam of light
Upon a sword, a fir-tree on a hill,
An old slave grinding at a heavy quern,
A king sitting upon a chair of gold
And all these things were wonderful and great;
But now I have grown nothing, knowing all.
Ah! Druid, Druid, how great webs of sorrow
Lay hidden in the small slate-coloured thing!

William Butler Yeats
3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2012 7:37 pm

    i am so unbelievably happy you’re participating- which seems a weird thing to say, after a post like this. but you are someone who weaves and crafts words into something incredible, and someone whose stories i always want to know. i am so sorry for the recent events, and i am sorry you’re faltering. i hope that getting some stories out there helps everything ease up, a little bit.

  2. March 14, 2012 12:05 pm

    I hope so much that you find some of what you seek in the next two weeks. And if not, that you find a way to anchor the stories left untold at the end, and tell them anyway.

    In the meantime: Courage. And confidence that you are being heard.

  3. March 14, 2012 6:38 pm

    Haunting, and real. I hope the fear will finally loosen its grip and let you breathe. Thanks for sharing this.

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