You may remember that about five months ago, I posted about the book I had just written, and how it wasn’t the book I thought I would write. This feels almost like a continuation of that post.
Earlier this week, I published a second book. 39 Poems was something that just sort of happened. I remember the first poem vividly. A fellow hospital worker asked me one day how I was doing, and I automatically responded with, “Fine”. Then I wondered if the person would even notice if I wasn’t fine. Within minutes, I had composed a poem entitled, suitably, “Fine”.
I hadn’t meant to write a second book, especially so close to the first. But after “Fine”, I just kept writing. And writing. And writing. Some days I wrote dark poems. Some days I wrote lighter poems. Some days I wrote both.
As the basis for the book began to take shape, I knew I wanted to have one more light poem than dark poems. I wanted that in order to make the point that light always wins.
Depression doesn’t feel like winning. Depression feels, among other things, like being trapped in a box in the bottom of a well. First you have to figure out how to get out of the box. Then you have to figure out how to climb up from the well. And generally, Lassie didn’t see you fall in to know to get Timmy to call the authorities to help you out. That would make the process much easier.
19 of the 39 Poems are dark, and many focus on loneliness and isolation. 20 of them focus on what brings me back from the darkness. They examine the areas of life where I find light to guide me when depression makes the world seem bleak. My daughters, the changing seasons, a memory of my sister’s bedroom, even a cup of coffee. These things remind me that life isn’t all dark.
My point in writing the book wasn’t to depress people, but rather to give hope to the depressed. When people are in that box at the bottom of the well, it helps to know that they aren’t alone. It helps to know that others have faced the darkness and found something worth hanging on to.
I want to provide my own experiences with darkness and light for those who need it. Not everyone experiences depression the same, and not everyone finds joy in the things that bring me joy. But if my poems can be used as an example for just one other person, I will be happy.