Friday, April 20, 2012

because it is only there as a thing to be dreamed of

Life was so exciting a few days ago that I was pretty much enthralled by just about everything. It was awfully great while it lasted. It didn't last. Obviously, I don't want to be manic and psychotic. I truly don't. But I sure did enjoy having some extra energy and pep in my step. Hopping down the cement stairs at the parking garage of my university was awfully fun at the time. It sounds kind of stupid, but it was enjoyable. I so rarely truly enjoy myself.

My case manager told me yesterday that she had let the doctor know I was "unhappy" with him. He said he had "observed" me being "a little manic". Hence, no lobbying to get my higher dosage of Prozac back has worked. You can't blame a girl for trying.

Anyway, so now that I'm back down to the regular, rather dull, old me, here is a poem that comes to mind. It is a poem I have loved for like 15 years. It often has come to mind, because the line "everything is easy but wrong", makes so much innate sense to me for reasons I can't really articulate to you. Perhaps you can understand. Incidentally, Randall Jarrell, who is mentioned here, was a remarkable poet who committed suicide due to mental illness.

"Old Dominion"

By Robert Hass

The shadows of late afternoon and the odors

of honeysuckle are a congruent sadness.

Everything is easy but wrong. I am walking

across thick lawns under maples in borrowed tennis whites.

It is like the photographs of Randall Jarrell

I stared at on the backs of books in college.

He looked so sad and relaxed in the pictures.

He was translating Chekhov and wore tennis whites.

It puzzled me that in his art, like Chekhov's,

everyone was lost, that the main chance was never seized

because it is only there as a thing to be dreamed of

or because someone somewhere had set the old words

to the new tune: we live by habit and it doesn't hurt.

Now the thwack . . . thwack of tennis balls being hit

reaches me and it is the first sound of an ax

in the cherry orchard or the sound of machine guns

where the young terrorists are exploding

among poor people on the streets of Los Angeles.

I begin making resolutions: to take risks, not to stay

in the south, to somehow do honor to Randall Jarrell,

never to kill myself. Through the oaks I see the courts,

the nets, the painted boundaries, and the people in tennis

whites who look so graceful from this distance.


  1. I love the poem! And I'm proud of you for keeping on moving forward.

  2. There are appalling things that I am desirous of.

    There are times I am only remotely identifiable to myself.

    Some very "normal" things appear to be aesthetic affronts.

    Creeping mediocrity gives me a headache.

    So I think I understand :-).

  3. Thanks, K. C.

    I think you understand too, Mary. Thanks.


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