I used to think that poetry had to take a specific form: haiku, limerick, ode, metered rhyme, etc. Oh, there certainly are many different types of poetry that can be named and grouped, but truly poetry is a much more ethereal experience that evades the concrete. I like Merriam-Websters way of defining poetry: writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm. Well, gosh, that sure gives a lot of leeway, doesn’t it? That leeway is where I find my freedom as a writer, and I used it a couple of years ago when answering the question, “What is it like to live with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?” It’s like any other life. I have my ups and downs, joy and tears, hopes and fears, love, family and friendship. But, I deal with daily pain and problems that are pretty odd and hard to fathom by people who don’t live with a genetic difference such as this. I wrote this free form poem to explain a tiny bit of what I go through. I didn’t write it for sympathy, and definitely not for pity. It’s just a tiny window into my world to facilitate understanding. That’s what we all need, don’t you think?
It’s too late to take the little white pill tonight. I stayed up late getting work done; graduate classes are a lot of work. Now, if I take the pill, I won’t be able to get up with the baby. There’s not enough time.
I can’t fall asleep on my back, never could. Maybe if I turn on my side it will be all right. Yeah, I’m all right.
I’m not all right. My ribs are moving out of place. It’s starting to hurt. It’s hard to breathe. I turn on my back and push and rub and massage my ribs back into place. Maybe I can sleep on my back.
My knees, my ankles, my hips fall out of place. I can’t sleep on my back. I stretch and twist and move my legs back into place. I hear my husband’s voice.
“Are you hurting?”
“Do think an Alleve will help?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’ll go get you one.”
I can’t sleep on my back. I’ll try my other side.
My ribs start to move. My shoulder pops. Oh no, it’s out. I get up, pause to reset my ankles, and head to living room. I twist and turn and pace. I make large, painful circles with my arm. It won’t go back into place. How long this time? Hours? Days?
I sit at the computer and stare at the news, Facebook, the Weather Channel, anything. Take my mind off of it, please.
I lay on the couch. Push pillows under my legs, my arms, try to adjust, try to rest.
I sit. I stare. I try to fight. I can’t. The tears begin to creep, unwanted. The voice in my head begins to scream. First, a whimper, then a full fledge wail. It screeches, “How am I supposed to live the rest of my life this way?” It roars louder and louder until I can no longer understand my own thoughts. The tears tumble quickly until there are no more tonight. I sit. I stare.
I return to bed. I’ll try to sleep on my back. The headache from my sobs fogs my mind, exhaustion clouds my thoughts. I slam into sleep. I dream of pain.
The baby cries. I sigh and look at the clock. My husband has already left for work. I breathe deep, twist, stretch, push, begin to put bones back into place.
Slowly, I rise.