The deep black lake in my core
edges inexorably closer to its rim
high above my happy valley filled
with flowers, trees, bees and butterflies,
birdsong, breezes, babies and bounty.
Constantly fed by bloody streams trickling
death counts, devastation, danger,
it has risen significantly above
the level I could always manage
with my many magical resources.
Infested with trauma, pain, grief,
cruelty beyond measure from my earliest days,
swirling, eroding the banks, turning the beaches
into quicksand which dares me, come close and be sucked
into the airless darkness.
The waves lap caressingly, seductively inviting me to swim,
teasing me with thoughts of immersion.
I know too well the danger of dipping even a toe into its murky depths.
If I trip and fall into the darkness,
I will not emerge.
Circling round to the point where disaster threatens,
dragging rock after rock I build a dam.
Disregarding bruised fingers and aching back,
I fight on.
If happy valley is submerged,
That would seal my fate.
Higher and higher I build the dam,
nails broken and bleeding,
I must not stop.
Finally, it is done.
No dark waterfall will spill its
noxious droplets and poison spume
to contaminate all I hold dear.
I search for my safe path.
Turning my back on the lake,
I tentatively place one foot in front of the other
again and again, until I am safely in the happier place.
Inhaling the scent of tree and flower
I am released from my turmoil.
Listening to song of bird and bee
I am healed of my pain.
Through my own strength………I WILL SURVIVE.
A member of the Ballaghaderreen Writers, Susan Graham writes short stories and has been published in the New Roscommon Writing anthology 2018 and in Liam Harte’s 2017 anthology ‘Something About Home’ and in chapbooks. Her poetry has been shortlisted regularly in competitions, coming second in the Strokestown Poetry Competition, ‘Roscommon Writers’ in 2018.