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Tag Archives: fear

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found poem: The World’s

fear…

spirit…

doors

DAK Hotel Sacher, Vienna 1969It’s a small thing, to knock on a closed door, but in our house it was a rule. A closed door meant Privacy. It meant knock, listen, wait. In our neighbors’ houses, I was amazed that doors seemed mere tissues in the air, without substance or meaning, things to swing aside without thought. Constrained by the constant nibble of small rules, always the good girl, I was envious of this reckless, feral behavior, this bound-less privilege.

But for my mother, who had few boundaries, this was a critical mark of civility, something that separated us from the shouters, the art-less, the bargers-through-doors. It was important, this evidence of etiquette. And she wasn’t wrong; honoring a closed door seems reasonable and polite.

But what she was trying to keep out — the foul air of an untold hurt, pain, fear, loneliness — had no respect for doors or rules. It invaded, inopportune, and smeared itself on everything.

. . . . .
photo: Dorothy gazes out, Hotel Sacher, Vienna, 1969

eleven…

I don’t know what it was that made me afraid, but at age eleven, caught in the most awkward moment of my childhood, unready for being the changeling I had become or whatever might come next, I became convinced that I was being poisoned and I would die.

The knowledge came over me like a blush, without reason, and made my breath raggedy in my chest. Who might poison me was beyond my pre-adolescent logic, but that death was creeping quickly upon me with sure inevitability informed every moment of what I knew would be my final days.

There was no one to entrust with my knowledge, no one to question or explain. I went to a baseball game with my cousin, unable to tell him that this would be our last visit. I waited for the signs, which I knew might be delayed by days, or even weeks. When I couldn’t breathe, I lay down on the couch until my mother told me to go to my room. My child’s-view world, already small, shrank to this one thing: that I was dying.

Then, without explanation, like a blush, the fear receded. If I had been poisoned — by my anxiety, by loneliness, by adolescence — the toxin released its hold on me, let me fill and empty my lungs, let me shrug back into the blurry, ill-fitting outline of the person I was becoming.

words…

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