Poet's Corner: A poet can show us the comfort in pain and fear
The Poet: Deb Chadwick, a retired social worker, began writing poems to deal with an important loss, and then continued because she fell in love with the written word. She is a member of the Poetry Society of Vermont.
The Poem: Poets are not generally calm and peaceful people, protected from pain. Life is painful, and we need to share that pain … not for sympathy alone, but for the recognition of our common humanity. Poets and non-poets alike seek community. Poets are blest, or cursed, with a need to share, and to share dramatically … in words!
People around us don’t always want to hear about our demons but the poet has another need … to be heard “out loud.” If we kept all our pain, and our joy, to ourselves, where would music come from? If you don’t agree, get out your favorite hymn book and read the words out loud. Hymn writers are poets. The music is secondary! The real music is in the words.
So here the poet writes to loose her demons, not to give them to you but to destroy them for herself.
Deb tackles some very real demons from her childhood … fears, moral confusion, shared grief, rage, rebellion … there are strong and troubling images here, but none unfamiliar to us. (That’s another things a good poet does — reminds us of ourselves.)
I think these images shared are a means to survival. In “The Rose and the Yew Tree,” Agatha Christie tells a story of two men courting the same woman … a very gentlemanly one, whose trousers are always properly pressed, and the one who always comes on as sort of a slob. The uncouth one wins the girl. She writes that the first one had no bad fairies at his birth … and consequently had no Story. Our poet shares some bad-fairy events, and she courageously shares a real story.
I once read that if you don’t let your
demons out, they will consume you.
Were these childhood ones that hid
in the dark closet and I covered my face
with sheets that smelled of summer
so I wouldn’t see them?
Or were they the invisible voices that
perched on each shoulder, muttering in my ear,
telling me right from wrong?
Were the images I saw, in a half awakened state,
dressed in gossamer shades and crossing my room,
another form of the angels I like to believe they were?
Or the dark shadow that appeared in the
corner of my apartment, growing larger with
each hair raising fear as a friend
told me about her brother’s suicide…
Was this a demon or merely an unwanted visitor?
I know when mine come out.
They are usually locked in the deepest corner
of my soul and a few times, they have
battered down the door and come raging
against all that is wrong in life.
Spitting and clawing, red with hate and deceit,
intent only on destroying.
It is a battle to subdue it as I wrap my arms
around its trembling body, pouring all the comfort
I can muster and whispering,
“It’s okay baby girl, I am here.”
Debra P. Chadwick, August 2013