Choosing

[Two days ago, a young man plunged to his death from a balcony in the building where I live. I found his suicide deeply troubling. It cut close to the bone. Writing led me through the thicket of memories and back out into the light.]

Fork in path

Fork in path in park, from Dennis M2's Photostream on Flickr

From birth to death
we travel a road that meanders
from one fork to another.
At each fork we choose.
Left. Right. Forward.

Never back.
Turning around means
approaching the past
from a new direction,
a different kind of forward.

One day
the road ends.
We breathe our last.
Take in the final, sweet air of life.
Enter the unfamiliar land of death.

Some choose their time
for entering that strange land.
They arrive at a fork.
Darkness one way,
abyss the other.

Seeking release,
they choose abyss.
That’s what happened
in the highrise where I live,
on the floor I call home.

Three days of fights.
A child’s growing panic.
A call to police.
Alcohol. Despair.
Release for one man.

Lingering horror
for his lover,
her daughter,
and the police officers
who witnessed the fall.

Others on my life path
have chosen abyss.
Young men all.
At forks in their roads
they saw only darkness and abyss.

Each death shattered
a circle of family and friends.
They gathered up
the pieces of their lives.
Glued them back together.

Their grief is like
a pottery pot I once had.
The lid cracked in two when I dropped it.
Small pieces chipped off.
I glued the lid and used it for years.

Then one day
I no longer needed the chipped pot.
I had the story.
Had the memory of the friend
who had given it to me.

The pot had become
a brokenness
I was ready to part with.
The story remained whole.
The story was enough.

Cathryn Wellner, March 26, 2010

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Share

6 comments for “Choosing

  1. tess
    March 25, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    In Africa, a broken clay pot is a huge tragedy. There are so few and to own one is a own a precious treasure. It serves many functions – carries water, cooks the food. It’s presence in the compound a reminder of the support it gives the family. I saw a sculpture made by a local artist in Mozambique when I was living there: a woman on her knees, her face in her hands and on the ground in front of her a pot broken in two.

  2. March 25, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Incredibly moving, Tess – and we are all, in our own way, clay pots. All precious treasures, even in – or perhaps because of – our brokenness.

  3. March 26, 2010 at 10:40 am

    This morning’s e-mail brought these beautiful words from a dear friend. I asked her permission to share them here.

    As always, reading your stories and other people’s stories is such a personal revelation. I get under these people’s skin and relive many of their experiences that were my own.

    And the most amazing part of the exercise is that the feeling of oneness with these people makes me that much more stronger. Keep these wonderful life-affirming tales coming … it is like drinking a nectar that otherwise would not be available.

    Love/Sharon

  4. March 26, 2010 at 10:41 am

    This morning’s e-mail brought these beautiful words from a dear friend. I asked her permission to share them here.

    As always, reading your stories and other people’s stories is such a personal revelation. I get under these people’s skin and relive many of their experiences that were my own.

    And the most amazing part of the exercise is that the feeling of oneness with these people makes me that much stronger. Keep these wonderful life-affirming tales coming … it is like drinking a nectar that otherwise would not be available.

    Love/Sharon

  5. Geraldine Bush
    March 29, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Cathryn, thank you for the beautiful poem. It struck many chords with me.

    Geraldine

  6. March 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Writing is the only way I seem to be able to make sense of of the world. I really appreciate your reading the poem and leaving a comment.

Leave a Reply