PTSD

Oh these ghosts that haunt my eyes.
Oh these sights no one else sees.
That face, one and many, spliced
in broken mirrors, leering fragmentary
through doors and shining glass.
Legion the lurking demon with hollows
for his sight: terrible, unblinking, grim.
None have eyes for his shadows;
and I have eyes only for him.

I remember. I cannot cease remembering.
Every nerve and neuron on fire with memory,
always and everywhere repeating, repeating.
Like some gaping void into which all light endlessly,
endlessly must go; all thought and all strength must go;
where I return unnoticed to the empty fright
and disappear without a word into the unknown,
into the unknowing, uncaring, obliterating night.

Bare the fearful gasp that permeates
each present moment with my memories:
trembling and thin as it spirates
and spirals. Each hour bent and breathed
with the broken spirit of the past.
Time prostrate before the power
of blood and terror and the last –
breathless hemorrhaging of the hours.

Quietly I shake under the dead gaze
of the night, the hollow face, the broken
moment. Silently the terrors shift and graze
my covered ears, and whisper a soft token
of endearment over the clutch of my hands.
Inaudibly I quake before the recollected harm,
which gathers to wake me and command
me to depart again to its bewitching arms.

My fingers grip the edge of time,
and desperately I try: not to go, not to go
endlessly and repeatedly away – not to find
that face I see and that voice I know.
Clutch the painful threshold, that brink
that fills me to the brim with tears and
rage and terror: too much to think,
scrambling for the safe hold or hand
to keep me from falling again to the memory
of that time, that boundless hour, when no one caught me.

Anne M. Carpenter

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9 thoughts on “PTSD

  1. I much admire your poetry and this poem in particular. Are you a visual artist as well? Blessings and much obliged.

  2. Jenny says:

    From someone who suffers from PTSD, such a striking, powerful, and beautiful poem. I greatly admire your work on this. Strikes me in a way words cannot describe.

    • I am humbled by your comments, and I pray sincerely for your continued strength as you cope and heal.

    • And – if you would, please keep me in your thoughts too. It is hard to be brave, as I’m sure you know in ways more profound than I could dream.

      • Jenny says:

        I commend you for your bravery; something I deeply lack when it comes to this. I will of course keep you in my thoughts and prayers as we travel on this road to healing together. I am greatly moved by your words on this blog; it brings me peace of mind to realize that maybe I am not alone in this world.

      • The experts I am learning from tell me that trauma is deepened with the experience of solitude and shame over it, no matter the nature of or our distance from the experience. So let’s be a little brave together. I would like that very much.

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