“The 2016 Presidential Election has left me gutted. I think we’ve all heard enough Monday morning quarterbacking. I have nothing to add other than I feel empty. And anxious. And while I’m at it, I’m depressed.
The old Spiritual “Rise Above It” comes to mind, but my general state of lassitude dampens any inclination to sing. My husband tells me to ‘put it (my weary dissatisfaction ) in a box and stash the box on a shelf in the closet.’ When he says this, I want to hit him.
But hearing of Leonard Cohen’s death, has paradoxically cheered me. Not his death, of course, but listening to him sing “Hallelujah” has lifted my spirits.
What is it about poetry that can lift the spirits? Leonard Cohen said that he got into music because he couldn’t make a living as a poet. To my mind, as a poet who made music, he did both.
I’m always surprised by synchronicity – the seemingly random meshing of two odd bits. Reading Cohen’s obituary this morning, I came across his lyrics for “Bird on a Wire”: Like a bird on a wire, / like a drunk in a midnight choir, / I have tried in my way to be free.
And those lyrics hopscotched me to a piece I must have written ten or so years ago. It fits my post-election despair as well as Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire.”
During the day, my glass is half full, but at night, I’m deviled by night sweats.
I’m on a high wire. The wire sways. The end opposite is hazy in the lights and circus sawdust. Tentatively, I arch my instep, point my toes, and after a dramatic pause, I place one foot on the wire. I feel it flex. I take another step and then another. I hate this. The wire sways. I feel myself pitch into space. Arms flailing, I manage to catch hold of the wire. I won’t fall… I won’t…
The audience gasps one giant in-take of breath – one collective response to being punched in the stomach. They point their phones at me. Are they saving me for home viewing, or are they beaming me to the BBC? Am I breaking news?
I cling to the wire. It cuts into my flesh. My hands are greasy with sweat. The muscles of my arms twitch.
The clowns scramble. Running round the center ring with seltzer bottles, they try to distract the audience. The crowd won’t have it. I’m the star attraction. Better than the elephants or the man-eating tigers. Which clown will risk his life to break my fall? Clyde with the red nose or Fred with the frizzy orange hair? Perhaps neither.
But here come the Shetland ponies into the center ring and the ponies are hitched to a wagon and in the wagon is a … glass of… water. It looks like water.
If I’m lucky, I’ll drop into the glass of water. It looks half empty.
As to whether the glass is half full or half empty, who knows? Time will tell. or we could ask one of the Second Street Owls. Meanwhile, I’ll listen to Leonard Cohen and soothe my savaged soul.