- by Lucy Hinton, Jan 2011
Illness is a battleground.
Between the white blood cells and the germs. Life and death.
Gloomy statistics and the power of imagination.
The neurotic scouring of internet sites and the prayers of the sweat lodge.
Despair and hope. Me and my demons.
The battlefield is messy, and at times terrifying.
There is blood, loss of limbs, and defeat.
Sometimes I find myself flattened in the dirt, my face soiled
With gore and the night’s bitter tears.
My legs burn unbearably, columns of pain that demand all I’ve got
Just to bear them.
Lightning bolts stab within my body, striking at my peace -
There is no safe place left to rest.
My muscles are wasted from ten years of confinement.
The gunshots and the casualties are everywhere
And yet they are on the inside –
How can I fight an enemy that turns out to be part of my own being…?
Here I lie in the dirt and the darkness, half-paralysed and half-crazy
And I am lonely, bitterly lonely and exhausted.
But then the morning comes, and though my body
Is a chamber of hell, I again find the will to stay within it
And to rise, and to wait…
Yes this patience is a virtue whose gesture points implicitly
To the beyond.
Ten years I have lived upon this battlefield
Such that it has almost become home.
I am frightened I might have accepted too much,
Become too used to it and lost sight of better horizons.
What has it come to when I struggle to imagine my own health?
Yet it is not death I am waiting for, for I can be certain
Death shall wait for me;
It is the life-force of restoration.
The place from which I draw my patience must surely contain
A memory of something greater.
My resilience is a well that refills from many sources,
Some hidden even to me.
The white gulls, the lakes, the call to adventure, and of course… love.
There is cause for hope…
Not only for what may lie ahead, but for what is already right here…
If I shine a torch to illuminate the dark cave in which I sit,
I discover exquisite petroglyphs upon the walls, written for me,
So personal, so perfect.
Here is tender beauty in the most ragged of places.
Of course in the end, the sun will go out, the earth will die
And I too will be extinguished in the blink of an eye.
But not yet, for this battlefield asks to be sown with a lifetime of seeds,
And to one day bloom with poppies.