The Dark Road   1 comment

This is a powerful picture by a poet/author of the struggle of depression.

It’s the other pole of life, the negation that lives beneath the yes; the fierce chilly gust of silence that lies at the core of music, the hard precision of the skull beneath the lover’s face.  the cold little metallic bit of winter in the mouth.  One is not complete, it seems, without a taste of that darkness; the self lacks gravity without the downward pull of the void, the barren ground, the empty field from which being springs.

But then, the problem of the depressive isn’t the absence of that gravity, it’s the inability to see–and, eventually, to feel–anything else.  Each loss seems to add a kind of weight to the body, as if we wore a sort of body harness into which the exigencies of circumstance slip first one weight and then another: my mother, my lover, this house, that garden, a town as I knew it, my own fresh and hopeful aspect in the mirror, a beloved teacher, a chestnut tree in the courtyard of the Universalist Meeting House.  They are not, of course, of equal weight; there are losses at home and losses that occur at some distance; their weight is not rationally apportioned.

My grandfather, whom I loathed, weighs less to me in death than does, I am embarrassed to admit, my first real garden, which was hard-won, scratched out of Vermont soil thick with chunks of granite, and a kind of initial proof of the possibility of what love could make,  just what sort of blossoming the work of home-keeping might engender.  Sometimes I seem to clank with my appended losses, as if I wear an ill-fitting, grievous suit of armor.

There was a time when such weight was strengthening, it kept me from being too light on my feet; carting it about and managing to function at once requred the development of muscle, of new strength.  But there is a point as which the suit becomes an encumbrance, somthing that keeps one from scaling stairs or leaping to greet a friend; one becomes increasinglly conscious of the plain fact of heaviness.

And then, at some point, there is the thing, the dreadful thing, which might, in fact, be the smallest of losses: of a particular sort of hope, of the belief that one might, in some fundamental way, change.  Of the belief that a new place or a new job will freshen one’s spirit; of the belief that the new work you’re doing is the best work, the most alive and true.  And that loss, whatever it is, its power determined not by its particular awfulness but merely by its placement in the sequence of losses that any life is, becomes the one that makes the weighted suit untenable.  It’s the final piece of the suit of armor, the plate clamped over the face, the helmet through which one can hardly see the daylight, nor catch a full breath of air….

After years and years of resisting, of reaching toward affirmation, of figuring that there must always be a findable path, a possible means of negotiating against despair, my heart failed.  Or, to change the metaphor, we could say what quit was my nerve, or my pluck, or my tenacity, or my capacity for self-deception.


Posted November 3, 2011 by janathangrace in Reading

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One response to “The Dark Road

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  1. Thank you for sharing what I imagine you feel is somewhat autobiographical? What pain! If my guess is correct, could you share with us where in the journey he traces do you find yourself? Or would that just add to the pain?

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