I had a really hard day yesterday. Here’s a poem I wrote last year after finding out I had damage to my pancreas. As the poem encourages, put on a classic album sometime today and just let yourself feel it.
“That’s a Feeling.”
The minute the doctor says your pancreas is failing,
You hardly hear anything else.
She goes on about other organs, other tests,
Something about family history and weight you’ve gained
After a severe injury several years back. All this is significant,
But some strange fog sets in. Almost, as if, you are
In a vortex. All senses heightened but dull. Think:
Dull knife left out at the perfect place to cut you.
You take the prescription paper with it’s unclear scribbles,
Grab your coat, walk out into grey winter day.
The cold air touches you like a lover. You start the car.
The music you played on the way to the appointment
Is loud, almost blaring. Far too happy for what you feel.
You change the song. You think about calling someone.
You don’t. This is between you & your body right now.
Nobody knows you don’t sleep anymore, nobody knows
How violently you throw up everything you try to keep down.
Nobody knows how you lay in the shower feeling the heat
Pound down on your body, until there is no hot water left.
You need space for unbelief to breathe.
You need a form of failure, since it is what you have.
You are this minnow squirming in meticulous formation
Through the days ahead. Occasionally, you feel the water snake
In yourself arise, angry and lost. Soon memories
Start to press up against the walls of your skin.
Suddenly, the faceless get their eyes back.
You remember something. One time in your twenties,
On a park bench, a girl leaned over and kissed you,
Smiled, batted her bashful eyelashes. “Now that’s a feeling,”
She said. Every song you used to love suddenly
Has time and importance. Your heart has given every part of you rhthym
And you suddenly knew not just how to dance, but to feel it. The world
Coated with lush greenness. You begin to cry
As all the somethings the doctor said to you weeks ago,
You realize, had the same effect. The cold stethoscope
Against your chest and the announcement that your body is failing,
“Now that is a feeling,” she should have said. You long
To call the girl you used to play songs to at night laying in bed,
Silently holding each other, listening to them. After they’d finish,
You’d look at her, kiss her, smile, and say, “Now that is a feeling.”
Instead, you put an old copy of Nashville Skyline,
Holding the record sleeve to your heart. You smile
As you listen, knowing all the feelings you felt then and
Remain forever trapped inside the vinyl. You sink down
Into the cushions of your couch, alone, and sob.
Her soft voice in your head, so brave, so confident,
The day she leaned in to kiss you, ‘Yes, this is feeling.’
You allow yourself, as you did all those years ago,
To just let her hand stay holding your face in her tiny fingers.
The songs play out into the empty air of the room. Frozen.
You know the choices. Let the songs echo and fade away
Or to grab hold of them, kiss them passionately. Assure them,
“This is a feeling,” and then dance with them,
Syncopating your heart, body, and soul one step at a time.
Acknowledging, “This definitely is a feeling.”