Tuesday, August 02, 2011

One to Ten

On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best you’ve ever felt and one being the worst, how would you say you’re feeling today?—common psychiatrist’s query

The questions are beyond rote,

Like pennies turned over in so many hands

They’ve become featureless discs,

Lincoln’s head polished to a muted lump, the dates

And mottoes inscrutable.

Reduce your life, please, to a number.

The days that stretch on, painfully long

And bone-dry as a track of dust-rutted highway,

Red earth horizon to horizon, the heat choking you,

When even breathing is a chore.

The nights when winter comes all at once,

Bringing swirling snow and discontent,

And you find yourself trapped

beneath the clouded green ice of your sorrow,

Bare heels and palms banging at the cold of your confinement,

Searching for the sharp-edged black hole

That you must have left when you fell in.

Please rate the dust, and the dryness you feel

Coating your brain with its grit;

Please give us some objective measure

Of the sensation that comes before drowning

When your lungs spasm wildly and make your heart stutter

And slow.

We aren’t asking much. Just a number.

Just tell us, and then we’ll go.

--AG, Aug 2011

No comments: