Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Poetry Of Panic

Just moments ago, in the grip of day 2 of an unexpected, unexplained panic attack, I had a sudden thought: I wish I were a poet.

I was trudging, oh-so-slowly, up the stairs to my bedroom at the time: My panics are not about moving fast, whipping through life, but about heaviness of chest and limbs. The typical bird-like flittering of a classic panic attack does make random visits--my hands will suddenly begin to tremble more than usual, and it feels as if the very cells of the skin stretched across my cheekbones are vibrating, leading to the tingling in my face that only panic brings.

It's my brain that fails me, however. Thoughts don't race through it; they appear briefly, though as mere skeletons of anything significant, and then disappear as quickly as they came. The point of my upstairs trudge was to take half a Xanax, so I could then go run a couple of errands--there are a couple of things I really need to pick up before tomorrow. Except, somewhere between step 1 and step 15, the list disappeared. I couldn't even remember the stores I needed to go to, much less what I'd planned to pick up there.

Which is when I suddenly thought, "I wish I were a poet."

Maybe I'm romanticizing. Probably I am. But my experience of panic feels so unlike anything else I've ever read about or heard about. I feel as if I need to find the words to describe it; that maybe, if I could find those words, I'd be able to find a reason, a trigger, something to work on that would prevent its reappearance. Or, at least, I'd be able to talk about it in a way that would allow me to share it with someone else, lessening the burden of it.

But I find myself stymied. This feeling does not need to be written out in long, convoluted sentences. This feeling screams out for tight, carefully constructed passages. It despises grammar, this feeling. It needs free-form space, a place to just exist and expose itself. It needs analogies and metaphors, and words chosen with such practiced precision that it becomes immediately obvious that there are no other words that could be used. It needs an absolute, crystal-clear perfection of language. It needs poetry. It needs a poet. *I* need a poet.

But I am not a poet. I am not so careful with words, and I am not capable of making words sing. I can talk; I can write. I am (I'd dare say, tempting the gods of hubris), a good writer. But I am no poet.

In the end, I cannot do my panic justice. And so, instead, I must live with it coiled inside me. Because I cannot speak for it, I instead need to silence it, however temporarily.

Xanax, take me away.

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