"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I can't seem to hold on
I can't seem to let go
I've lost my hands and the stumps of my arms wave
as goodbye and hello
and neither the coming or the going or the bald end
knows the damn difference.

Can you see these incomplete appendages as they war
to pull and push
almost comical in their inability to do either
without a grip?

I am tired of watching them.
You must be too.
All that flailing.
A bad dance by a worse dancer
in the throws of this tryingtryingtrying
and you, with season tickets!

If I could just come into myself
push through the tight ends
fingers filling a glove
I could hold something long enough to know.
I could release something long enough to know.
(at least in theory)

She said she had reached the middle of a lake
the shore lined with her many children.
She could see us waving, and she tried...wanted to...
but couldn't seem to make her way back.

I scoffed then.
'Selfish' I might have said.
'Weak' even.

Oh, I understand it now.
In the most difficult of all battles
(that being self to self)
she lost her hands
and we lost her.

I keep trying
to swim with stumps.


  1. I take on these words as metaphors, but the literal imagery gets in the way. I follow the horror and the helplessness, expressed so well… Very good at achieving so, this lack of simple powers, we find ourselves in sometimes.

    1. Yes. How helpless are we? I wonder. The addict, the thief, the serial killer, the pedafile? Have they hands? Lacking the simple powers, there is nothing left but faith in a more complex one.

  2. I think you could swim with stumps. The downward force of waving them might still propel you upward.

    1. I've attempted to swim without arms. Damn hard to breathe that way. I've attempted to swim with fists...which I guess are like stumps. Without the web of our hands, it is a slow progression with lots of surface slapping. Certainly you could tread water with stumps, but forward motion is so difficult.

  3. I immediately thought of Watsu, water therapy. you are in a warm pool supported by therapists hands and float suspended in water, weightless.
    It is a feeling of magic.
    I was in a magical place, no sound, in a dream, is it real?
    It was over too soon.
    I am still swimming.

    1. I've never heard of such a thing. It feels uncomfortable to read about it. Wonder what that means. I'm pretty much a fish in the water, so the water itself is no threat. Maybe it's the hands. But then sensory deprivation tanks freak me out as well. Keep up that freestyle!

  4. You captured the essence of the heartache, the confusion, the sheer agony inherent in love gone askew.

    1. Thank you Jonas. It would be nice not to know such things enough to write of them, not to know enough to comprehend the writing of them. And yet I know most hearts have felt them. It is not unique, and yet it totally is.

  5. Annie, would be worse if you only had nubs...

    Good poem

  6. I would like to renew my season ticket please. I have been both a bystander and a stumpee in this scenario Annie and neither are comfortable experiences.

    How can it be soooo hard to be ourselves? It seems incomprehensible on one level and yet I understand completely as I struggle with this myself. Which version is the "real" me? How do I tell when I'm life scripting (acting or role playing) as opposed to being me.

    At the moment I reckon it is when I let myself feel the uncomfortableness of myself. Let it just be there without trying to step around it or avoid it the whole time.

    I am tired of all this trying trying trying Annie aren't you? Shall we go to the playground and sit on the swings for a bit? I have to let it all hang out sometimes and that's always a good place to start. xx Jos

  7. Oh man. I can't imagine how frustrating that would be. Powerful poem.

  8. Gotcha, I'd like to swin in ice water

  9. it says to me that we should love what we really love because someday, wheather we like it or not, it will be gone. xo

  10. I see you waving, Annie, and I see you struggling in the water, and all I can think is, How does she wipe?

    - Eric

  11. ,,,waving back. I see your hand a'waving...

  12. This puts me to mind of the episode of MASH where Hawkeye was dreaming he was in the middle of a pond floating with body parts of arms and legs because he feels helpless when he is unable to save a patient (or something like that)

    your poem makes me look down at my arms right now and I see stubs.

  13. The thing about us humans is that we're built to survive, even when we don't want to survive. I love that you're writing your pain, my Annie. It's good to get it out.

    When I taught Sunday School many moons ago I used to tell the kids to bring a little rock to class. I'd have them grasp it tight and teach them how letting go of their fears/pain and giving it to God is as simple as opening their hands and turning it ever so slightly and the rock would tumble to the floor. I see your hand turning here. Yes, it's turning. I love you, my precious friend. xoxo

  14. I can't seem to hold on
    I can't seem to let go

    enough for me that's what i am feeling right now.

  15. Annie,
    The rigidity of these flowing words when translated to instances of you in my mind is as arresting as it is painfully sore...We are helpless at times..And probably get know ourselves the most at that point...Be well ..

  16. what a palpable sense of getting nowhere with that image of swimming with stumps. your power is your vulnerability, your willingness to be your beautiful dark and lost self. this is a side we all have but can't expose becuz of fear. the water as the unconscious is deep and rich symbol. when i write of my weakness i have to immediately follow it up with my strengths. you, beautiful woman, have tremendous strength that is so rare.

  17. It is all of the things you mentioned and more Annie...on my post...You are a good poet and writer, you have been one of my regulars from about the time I started my blog. and When I was having a hard time you were having a hard time and we both walked through(some of it at least)it at the same time...and even when you said you were not visiting peoples blogs you came over to mine and I very much appreciated it!


  18. I'm late.

    You've taken in alot of water but you haven't drowned. That counts for something. Sometimes I just float like deadwood and hope the rides will toss me kindly.

    That you write this and I and others comprehend what you mean, so fully, just reminds me that our hearts break


  19. All I can do is exhale. What do you say when there are so very many things to say? Love this, keep writing, I love the read.


Thank you for listening.