Mary Oliver has been taunting me. At first it was just the line ‘one precious life’ mixed with ‘what are you doing?’. The words were small voices at first and then formed in my mind to the point where it reached my poet brain. And then at night when sleep is what I desired, I listed poets and felt the words in my mouth until Mary Oliver made sense.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
And yesterday I found the poem and the lines. Why is it important because every night for the last few weeks, in the ritual that usually leads to sleep, the question begs me: what else could I have done?” And I answer: “Almost everything”. “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” And I am wordless. I am failing.
This is how I figured out my Celexa (anti-depressant) was no longer working. I have been coping with anxiety/depression for four years and the meds do not make me happy, they keep me from falling into a bleak-dark mind-space. It steals my creativity, it steals my energy and it steals my nature. Then the switch flips and I am scared to leave the house, but I do. Brave face and years of single-motherhood gathered up and I go. Out. And when I return, I put my nose in a book, my eyes on a re-run or pretend I actually care about anything on Facebook.
I know in that clear logical almost Vulcan part of my brain that I am fine. I am cancer free. I have a dear husband (normal squabbles, lots of kisses). I have a good son and daughter-in-law and a adorable, brilliant grandson. I have friends who care. However when my meds don’t work, as I know now, I don’t feel this. I save some inside part of me away from anything that can hurt me for I know I cannot rise any higher. For now.
In the light and dark of the world’s turning, I am off my own axis. I count the days until I see my doc. And I thank all the Gods and all the stars for poetry.