Angela crawled into her cage.
Her cage: a second floor duplex.
A dark cave her depression created.
Carved in the shape of a reading room with no lights.

Angela’s occasional appearances dared us to like her.
She pretended to dislike all of us.
She disliked herself too much to like anyone.
Or believe they could like her.

Her face saw the sun so infrequently it seemed porcelain.
If she located an invisible wall she could be mistaken for a mime.
She had plenty of invisible walls.
Our attempts at friendship ran into them regularly.

Angela was accomplished at suffering.
Her suffering transformed into poetry.
Some of her poetry made your face blanche as white as hers.
To hear her poetry was to experience deranged sacredness.

We asked our local church to add a side alter dedicated to Angela.
The church refused our request.
Her suffering was not recognized by the Vatican.
Angela miracles had not yet been confirmed.

Knowing Angela’s story, we thought her life a miracle.
Being kind toward others after such violence: a miracle.
Being loving toward others after such sexual abuse: a miracle.
See! Two miracles! Pay attention, Vatican!

Angela crawled into her cage one winter.
She relabeled it a cave for hibernation.
It remained a reading room to casual observation.
She placed every ounce of her suffering into new poems.

The white pages could not contain such intensity.
The papers burst into flames and spread.
Her upper burned without damaging the lower unit.
A third miracle, Vatican!

Angela survived this conflagration.
She used it as a metaphor for a gateway.
I saw her smile today at the cafe.
She returned my wave hello.

She seemed more human now, with a ragged sacredness.
Her poems won accolades and awards.
She never read her poems in public.
She refused to live within the province of those words.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Okay. It is Christmas Eve and I am posting a poem about depression and beating depression and the miracle of people living through depression. But the holidays are the most depressing time of the year for depressed people who feel more acutely alone at this time, because they do not have friends or family to spend the holidays with. Or worse, they know they are depressed and purposefully shut themselves off not wishing to detract from others’ joy.

My recollection of reading about the Christian Saints is that most of them were elevated to sainthood for maintaining a christian love while living under strong duress and pain in one form or another. I think people who live with depression, yet find a way to be kind and loving are exerting saint-like effort. Feel free to plug in a different word for depression, like handicapped or poverty.

There are days when I think of the word Jihad. I mean the definition: the spiritual struggle within oneself against sin. People who face adversity must struggle with the easy out of blaming their circumstances for sinful behavior. People who have privilege must struggle against the ease of sinful behavior, since they can use their privilege to bully justice.

I wish for all of you the strength and wisdom to be the kind, loving, caring person who seeks fair play and justice. I expect you to draw boundaries and use strength to maintain yourself, both physically and in spirit. Be who you are wholly and completely.

Love & Light. Tree & Leaf.


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