On the Anthropic Principle
Here at the spoke-ends of our galaxy
it is easy to forget the central axle moving
insensibly slow, still the silvery-white
dispersion of stars soothes randomly
until we impose a pattern, like the Magi,
like the Greeks.
-------------------And despite the most
accurate of calendars, dawn remains a wager
until the great lion of the sun peers over the plains
with a growl of heat and the day blooms and withers
toward the violet hour where even wise men
arrive as strangers because the arrangement
is never the same.
-------------------As the latest layer of bones,
can we ever appreciate how far
the swan’s neck stretched to uphold its head,
how far the spider’s strand thinned without snapping?
Can we recall the dark alternatives dodged,
any of which could have unmade us?
Always there were detours where the river
never creased the rock that never
rose from the sea that never
spawned a single fossil.
-------------------------When light illumines
the Grand Canyon in winter’s slant at sundown,
the stripes of ages burn with every visible color.
What is the color of a radio wave?
Only a man asks that.
(I had to used dashes because I couldn't figure out how to html the spacing; published in Poetry Now)
I’m proud of today’s poem in that my ambition in poetry has always been to combine philosophy with music, substance with form, and I thought this one turned out pretty well. That I can say this may indicate my depression is not as severe. If so I can only credit the addition of an antipsychotic drug two days ago. In addition I’m taking two mood stabilizers and two classes of antidepressants. Since 1996 this combination has not failed to eventually lift me out of the doldrums, and I say doldrums ironically, since the word sounds so harmless and normal. It’s not doldrums, it’s a maelstrom.
What the antipsychotic seems to do, besides increase my appetite, cause weight gain, and other fun side effects, is to dull the inner fear, the apprehension that constantly accompanies depression.
I wanted to mention another symptom of depression, which you likely won’t find in the textbooks. I call it dysynchrony. Here’s what it’s like: I go to make coffee. I have trouble remembering how to do it, and anxiety pushes me forward in time or keeps me behind, so the feeling is that there is an ideal time, a synchronous time in which I might make coffee smoothly, but I can’t drop into that stream of time. Instead I fall behind or clumsily speed ahead. I’m spooning coffee into the filter, for instance, but I spill because I’m thinking of putting the water in. Then the grounds that fell out into the plastic cone have to be washed out, and I shudder at the extra task, fearing the detour will ruin my chances at making coffee. It’s as if the linear progression of a nearly automatic task has been fragmented into pieces, and I’m trying to put them together in a row but they keep moving about. When I finally succeed in making the coffee, it seems like a miracle and I wonder how I did it.
The worst experience of this, which I think I already mentioned in this blog, was when I was hospitalized for depression in 1996. I was trying to figure out how to tie my boots. I stared and stared at the eyelets, I didn’t know where to begin, or how to pull the laces diagonally across the tongue. I thought I would never figure it out, that I might never wear shoes again or that I might have to go barefoot about the hospital. I was too paralyzed to ask for help, but I finally managed it myself. That depression, incidentally, lasted eleven months, and necessitated my going on disability. Since I have not had to work as a doctor I haven’t been hospitalized again. But I’ve also become more skillful in managing my meds.
I don’t want today’s memo to sound too hopeful. As I re-read it, it sounds much too positive for my present state. I’m far from being out of the woods.
All for today,