Saturday, April 25, 2009

Owner's Manual

Today's napowrimo prompt at readwritepoem asked us to write a "how-to" poem. I came at the prompt rather indirectly. I started imagining what an owner's manual for depression would look like (when written from depression's viewpoint).

Don’t be afraid
I’ve always been with you
Though the buoyant trajectory
Of childhood often outpaced me
I still napped in the corner of your crib
And balled up like a fist
In your young stomach
And painted that fear of displeasing
On the inner lids of your eyes

Don’t be dissuaded
Now that they’ve named me
If they could cut me out with surgery
They would but aren’t you afraid
Of what would grow in my place
And if they unwrap the wounds
I’ve long dressed and tended
How will you handle so dry a revelation
We do better together in the dark and the damp

Don’t be deluded
No new ways of breathing
Nor new modes of moving
Nor new pills they’re prescribing
Will keep me at bay
I am patient I know all your openings
I belong to your beginning
I’ll stand watch at your ending
And sleep you through everything
That comes in between


  1. I'm speechless. Words cannot describe how good this is.

  2. Powerful, Erin, and melancholy.

    Anyone wishing to ignore their dark side must read your poem.

    Rather zen-like. I heard Thich Nhat Hahn once say he'd never want to forgo suffering because he needs that part of his life to cultivate compassion.

    I think you *have* crafted the perfect "manual" for depression. Best piece of "patient education" I've ever read.

    (Do you ever tire of our carrying on about your amazing work?)

  3. That was chilling. You captured it perfectly.

  4. Lovely lovely. Now you need to write a companion piece about the joy that lurks inside, too! Tragedy and comedy and all that. Beautiful piece, Erin. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. i'm drawn into how you start your stanzas with a negative and how 'depression' is personified, it was there in the buoyancy of childhood, to being named, identified, then just kind of curls into her, always at the edges waiting to come in..thanks for a good poem

  6. I have always been so bad at writing poetry.

  7. Thanks for all of the positive feedback, everyone! This one came to me quickly, but I was afraid that it was muddled. I'm glad you found something in it.
    Melissa-I'll try working on that companion piece!