Depression is not very pretty. Nor is it very kind. It has many faces, and it comes and goes as it pleases. It can affect almost anyone. If you are someone who has struggled with depression, you know it never goes away completely but hides, waiting for the right moment to reappear. It isn’t something to be lightly dismissed in yourself or in others who suffer from it. Who hasn’t seen the devastating effect it can have on a vulnerable person? I’ve struggled with it, and I’ve certainly known many others who were also affected by it.
Watching someone you love battle depression is never easy. It isn’t easily “fixed,” even in this age of modern medicine. Therapy and medicines are there, and for some people they help so much, but for others, less so. Compassion, patience, unconditional love and presence are the lifelines we can offer…to someone else and to ourselves.
To listen to me read this poem, please click on the link below. It will take a minute to begin.
Taking on your pain was something I tried to do, like slipping on your jacket, pushing an arm in and then another, pulling it tight around myself, hoping that by feeling what you do, it would diminish your pain.
No matter how hard I tried, it wasn’t a fit. Your depression fell around me in loose folds, the sadness sagging around my heart. Besides, it would leave you cold, open to the fickle winds that blew your way.
The Ekphrastic Review: writing and art on art and writing, has published my poem, “Sunday Morning.”
Let me give you a brief “back story” on this poem. Many years ago, I stopped writing completely for around twenty-five years. Total silence in my life. I don’t know why it happened, but it did. After what can only be be termed a spiritual experience on a trip to the Fijordland in New Zealand, poetry somehow magically entered my life again. I can’t explain this. It just happened, and I know it happened for a reason. This poem was the first complete poem I wrote when my poetic “voice” returned, and it’s only been read by one other person until today. It’s taken me about fifteen years to gather courage to submit it anywhere. My deepest thanks to editor, Lorette C. Luzajic, for publishing this piece.
Here is the link to the journal: http://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic/april-21st-2016
Rijksmuseum, Out the Window (c) 2013 Mary Kendall
Hymns unsung, prayers unsaid,
I sat by the window and prayed
for forgiveness one more time;
one more time I begged.
Holding the cup of coffee in my hand,
I hoped the warmth would fill me
where your words had left me cold,
but I knew nothing could do that—
fire can burn for hours and be unfelt.
Hymns unsung, prayers unsaid,
I lay down on the empty bed, pulling
the blanket across my cheek, turning
from the window, from the sky
and the sun, praying for some rest.
Note: The window in the photo is not, of course, the window of the poem. I love taking pictures of windows when I travel, especially indside looking out. This photo was taken in June 2013 when my husband and I were in Amsterdam, visiting the beautiful Rijksmuseum.
My very first tanka sequence was published in RIBBONS: Journal of the American Tanka Society, Winter 2016: Volume 12, Number 1. My thanks to editor, David Rice, for suggesting to me that these three tanka would work best in a sequence.
Today I feel a deep pride and happiness that a poem that has taken 15 years to complete has been published in one of my favorite poetry journals–The Whirlwind Review. This journal has a focus poetry following a spiritual path, and the current issue has a theme of journeying. That made it a perfect place to submit this poem, Drifting Along. My deepest thanks goes to editor, Jill Jepson, herself a writer I greatly admire.
New Zealand is a land far away from my own, but it is a spiritual homeland of sorts. After visiting there in July 2000, a twenty-five year silence in my writing of poetry ended after a spiritual experience I had on South Island. The beauty of the country and the kindness and friendliness of the people made this a trip I will never forget.
The link to the poem: http://www.writingthewhirlwind.net/Kendall.html
Audio: If you care to listen to me read this poem (and I hope you will–this is one of my most favorite poems), click on the link below. Give it a few seconds to load.
. Visiting Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
There are moments when I wonder if one day
I will drift too far, too deep into my mind,
a world where fragmented thoughts,
memories and feelings might be lost forever.
The last trip.
A one-way ticket.
Traveling halfway around the world, we are
in New Zealand, the land of Aotearoa,
‘the land of the long white cloud.’ Driving
south, we arrive in the Maori heartland.
From Rotorua with its dizzying sulfuric scent,
we hike past brilliant springs, steaming lakes
and hot, bubbling mud pools where it seems
as if the underworld might hover just below
the surface of this ancient thermal valley.
One morning we go to see Pōhutu Geyser.
After a while, I wander from the path only to be
unexpectedly splashed by a small spurt of water
that was invisible until I came too close.
The Maori guide tells me that I’ve been blessed
by the spirits. Brushing off the still warm spray
of water, I hope she is right. I want to believe.
Driving through this world of rolling green
volcanic hills, we finally reach the Waitomo Caves.
As we wait for our boat, I feel a pulse in the land—
I know we are standing on sacred ground.
With our inner clocks all timed out, we begin
the dark journey into the heart of the cavern
Skimming silently through the still waters,
the young boatman leads us far into the blackness
of a cave that tunnels in so far, we lose all light
and sense of where we are. Our eyes now adjust
to this obsidian underworld, and it seems that
we have begun to cross into unending nighttime.
Everyone in the boat is silent. To be this close
to the infinite expanse of darkness,
to transcend time and self—this is a place
for stillness…and so it is.
With only the lapping of water against the boards,
the boat slips along. Although we came here
knowing what was hidden in this hollow, no one
is prepared for the full beauty of what is there.
I look up and see endless strings of glowworms—
glowworms hanging so high up, they become
numberless strands of summer stars—pale green fires
in these underground heavens whose ghostly translucence
leaves me feeling as if I am asleep somewhere,
not wanting to wake up from this ethereal place
in which I float between two worlds.
The boat glides quietly in the gentle sway of water,
and it is then that I begin to fear we have drifted too far.
I can remember no way back.
No trail of crumbs.
My thanks to the New Zealand Tourist Bureau for the magnificent pictures shown above.