When in the dark I used to bring things with me. A blanket, mostly. Socks to keep my feet warm. Poetry books, for prayer. Then there are days when I crawl to the corner and turn my back to everything and close my eyes, as if seeking a darker place, still. Now I just lie like this—weightless and yet weighed down. I can scarcely force myself to breathe, my lungs telling me, what is the point. My heart telling me, what is the point. Everything inside my body telling me, what is the point.
Have I always been here? Have I never escaped it? How did I get almost a year of reprieve, only to wake up one day in the dark again?
Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.
(from The Writer’s Almanac)