When the wind stops playing in the streets
Hitting faces and hurtling brown paper wrappers
Plastic bag flotsam
The odd paper cup
Neglected remainders of someone’s day
Twisting them in spirals
In obscure corners of architecture
In their own absurd logic
When movements of water creep beneath cracks of ice
Perforated here and there
By our boots
Clean smell of mud
Windswept tunnels of dust and snow
Wrappers; that odd paper cup
Transform into watery eddies
Things dislodged from winter moorings
Collecting reflections of a new blue sky
Vast expanses of sun, sky
Of pink petals, green blades
Populated by the particular
Its effect yet vague
Location of dreams
Sanctuary for hope
Time staged for listening
Its whispering consequence
Bending reverence for light
Today we taste
Who is This I?
Who is this I?
I ask myself from some distant plateau
Beyond the eyes that take you in
Beyond the body that turns toward you
The arms and legs that involve you
Beyond the laughter spilled in your direction
The decisions that bear upon you.
Is it the I who greets strangers on the street?
Inviting community, albeit most fleeting
I honor our differences
Respect the psychic distance between us
Imagine the fullness and distractions in their lives
I roll out a tenuous bridge between us
A transitory passage of relationship
Conditional, risky, open, hopeful.
Or is it the I who, from the confines of my car,
Condescends to let pedestrians pass
Offering the minimal yet obligatory flick of the hand
Signaling their right to safety?
Waiting impatiently hunched over the steering wheel
Fingers with nothing to do except flicker nervously about
Until annoying people move out of my way?
Or is it the I who is presented with a red bean candy or two
And a bamboo calendar listing the Chinese New Year animals?
Who is refused the piece of halibut up front
Because I must have the fresher one from today, out back.
They cut it specially for me. Such a good customer. Bring your dog in, yes, that’s fine.
I buy squid, eel sushi, mussels, lobster,
My kids sample the exotic fare, ask for more.
So I return every week, and we exchange smiles, fish, and money, a little talk.
Or is it the I who panics at the sight of those fine square envelopes,
Address in calligraphy of gold and pretension
Anticipating the mood of the event to which we have been cordially invited?
Why do they bother when my response is always no?
I will not be witness to rites of passage,
Births, coming of age, marriage, deaths
I volunteer myself as black sheep if that ensures mutual abandonment.
Or is it the I whose hand is sought out
Held in pleasure by my children?
Gazing at their sheer beauty, I lose words.
One son tells me he loves me.
The other hates to be away.
Our laughter escalates to heights
Where, as the moment rests and we lie in its light,
Before giving way to yet a higher joy.
Or is it the I shocked at its own violence?
My voice flinging pain and abuse
My hands hitting the table, books, throwing what’s within reach,
My eyes sharpened on cold stone, glare and widen
A specter of fear for those who enter their scope
My words a litany against you
You, at the heart of my troubles, I seek to cut down, apart
Reduce you to an implement against me, or to nothing at all.
Who is this I?
Who dreams of unpopular futures where desires untrammelled by pragmatics of profit
Might flourish like a garden planted with a child’s vision of the important
Who loves and fears separation
The I whose knowledge is proclaimed in some obscure tomes
Who relinquishes a public voice testing my high ideals
An unexplored private voice encased in a timid femininity
Will not take you in, frowns in your direction
My eyes look to your left, my arms reach for nothing
My decisions retreat from you
Like the wind carrying off the leaves at your feet.
Precision is necessary.
(Glen O. Gabbard, M.D. and the American Psychiatric Association)
call Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder
(Chapter 21, Gabbard’s Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, Fifth Edition, aka Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V,dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9781585625048)
“characterized by recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images (obsessions) that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety or distress.”
Leading to performance of a compulsion or
“repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.”
The problem is that
“the obsessions or compulsions are time-consuming or cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”
I am confident that I have all of the details down absolutely correctly.
So let me just
Clean that spot of dirt on the monitor
Group the pens
Order up the papers
Wash that spoon
Scrub the counter
Arranged the cushions on the sofa, left and right
Vacuum the tight corners
List ebbing foodstuffs
List daily errands
List to-do, short-term and long
Reply to email without pause
File the email into folders
File the folder into folders
Reformat all documents to ensure conformity
Exfoliate body hair
Sponge down the shower
Disassemble the cosmetics
Reassemble the cosmetics
Iron every crease
Remove all cat fur
Sweep the sidewalk
Separate paper, plastic, glass, organics except the bones.
Make a 20-year plan
Moving house last time gave me muscle seizures so bad,
It cost me two weeks of work
Couldn’t set aside the unpacking
Not for a minute
Until every thing was in its place
Will we call them compulsions?
That I am obsessed with performing?
In the absence of “marked anxiety or distress”
No. They give me
In the absence of “impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning”
No. They give me
No task left undone
Even if it means relinquishing days (or years)
Even if it means vanishing from all else.
Even if it means resenting the children