Pen and Moon

blogging, books & poetry from the writing nook of Theresa Jarosz Alberti

POEM: MY BAG OF BONES

For about 18 months before my first knee surgery, I was in worsening chronic pain that greatly limited me and affected the quality of my life. It was a huge lesson for me in PAIN, what it’s really like and how much it can impact all the hours of a day. I know people who have been in pain like this for decades, people I care about, and yet I really didn’t understand it at all. I wanted to write a poem that would try to express (to the best of my ability) the nitty-gritty experience of pain. Let’s see how I did…

Dedicated to the Sufferers

I.

Oh Cruel,
dragging it through streets,
over rocks and raspy gravel.
I am less than human now,
a body that
used to be whole,
now a lumpy sack,
skin and stuff
that hurts, moans, growls.
Dragging that never ends
somedays,
except when
The Savage stops,
whacks the loudest parts
with a baseball bat,
then continues on.

Some days are like this.

II.

You cannot see it behind
my plastered-smile face.
There is the limp, the cane,
the grimace with each step.
These might catch your eye,
but I know they are
easily dismissed.

No one wants to see
or know
the truth and depth
of this white-knuckle
pain.

Why would you?

I can hardly blame.
I did it too.
Before.

I used to hear talk of pain
and the words slid over me
like water slipping over
river rocks.
No matter how much
compassion I felt,
I just didn’t get it,
could never
understand
your real
physical-emotional
despair.

III.

Pain is boring.
Pain is boring.
Pain is boring.
Why?

Even when caught
in the loneliest web
of my suffering

I know
how dull my pain is
for me to talk about,
how dull for you
to hear.

Sometimes
words
do not work
at all.

IV.

If I were an animal
I think it would be
different somehow.
You’d swoop in with your
baby-words, petting, comforting.
You would hear my
cries, yelps, whimpers,
and your heart would soften.

Perhaps because I
used to be human
like you,
you cannot imagine
my suffering.

If you knew,
your mind would recoil,
your body would flinch
to see the loaded gun of my pain
pointed at your chest.

Too close, too close.
It could happen to you
too.

V.

I cannot
I cannot
I cannot
at all
today.

VI.

We are  programmed to forget
the rawness, the grittiness,
the guttedness
of deep
pain.
We have to.
Our species would not continue
if mothers never forgot
being ripped open
by that first birth.
Besides,
we feel useless
in the face of someone’s
overwhelming pain.
It seems abnormal,
this SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING!
But it is.

As awful as it is at the time,
when it ends
(if it does)
it fades into some quieter memory.
We lose the excruciating sensations
as the details soften.
It was horrible, but it blurs.
It’s in the past
and we move on.

I pray
I’m lucky enough
to move on.

 

[Photos courtesy of Zygimantas-Dukausk, Hailey-Kean-11, and Yuris-Alhumay at Unsplash.com]

2 Comments

  1. I think you captured the experience of life with chronic pain very clearly. Thank you for sharing your gift and your journey.

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