on finding a sense of self in the New Year

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The way is shut — photo, my own

There needed to be a scapegoat.
I blamed Winter.

Forcing coldness in ’til bones rattled
and shivers of reflections broke through, startling
me like unwanted visitors who refuse to knock.

Peering at the icy pond with two mallards
atop, my hands clutch the bridge,
claiming false steadiness.

We still know what truth looks like,
even when our vision blinds us.
Hoping for a different sight
in our gallery of memory that forgets
when the forgiving eye of dusk shines,
all looks the same.

As the time-worn door approaches —
its closing, imminent, I feel the creaking
of unreadiness, as a restless itch
about to get its fingers slammed.
As though I’ve only just woken,
and I’m about to take my first breath.

Instead, my head thuds
too soft against the whitewashed door,
refusing to accept the fading colors.

Maybe, just maybe.
This year I won’t need
to wind the clocks back.

Sitting alone in the dark, wishing
I’d accepted the invitation, reciting
the many reasons for “no” does
nothing to reduce reality.

Every year I’ve sought a new landscape,
while traversing the familiar.
Waiting for an anvil to drop,
or the river to open its greying, gaping maw
to finally expose its profound truths.

My breath has grown too shallow,
and my path has not ended in the revival
of schools of salmon, signaling a thaw.
It must be Winter again.

The trustworthy satchel of pains is heavier
than the book, the pencil, and water bottle it houses,
but persists with a restless hope that I’ll try harder
to find the right spot to bury them.

I no longer fear the reckoning.
The scraping of bone on bone in order
to cleanse out the bad gunk hidden beneath
fleshy lines is welcome, and better than
the leeches I pull off my nerves at night.

If we don’t allow this resurfacing,
they say even more decay will follow,
yet we think seeds we’ve previously abandoned
are prematurely ripening just over that hill —
unseen, and flourishing.

Allowing the whipping wind to tousle
a new resolve, we layer and layer ourselves up
into a false level of acceptance
against our own brutality.

Dare not sit too close to the fire,
lest the charade melt in the presence
of the warmth of humanity.

My lungs rage in silence for failing them
when they’ve turned to nothing
but a papery pack of moths, fluttering
on the tiniest of currents within.

I’ve seen the hill. I’ve crawled over it.
The same dreams live there, too.
The same residue creaks along the floorboards,
and creeps up walls like black mold
to haunt you there as well.

We wish for an escape,
but I’m here to tell you this —
it does not exist.

The whiteness of my knuckles
gripping the wheel is as unseen as the road
as I stare into the distance that promises
the one thing I need — away.

Yes, the oceans are clearer in Bermuda.
The sands, pinker. Yet, time spent there
will pass, just as it does here, and until
you’ve invited your ghosts of past,
present, and future to brunch with you —

Today in the presence of nothing
more or less than your heavy, dirty soul,
you may as well pack up and go back.

Serenity is found where, and when
you’re ready to witness the landscape
as a blank slate before you now,
unsullied by perception.

Maybe, just maybe.
It’s time to re-open the door,
and extend a hand back inside.

Written by

Holes and a series of rabbits — my debut poetry collection — now available! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089RRRGXX/

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