Saturday, April 10, 2010

It is the thing that we keep hidden well

A friend introduced me to Carl Jung's concept of the "shadow," and it has haunted me every since. Not necessarily one's evil twin, but something potent, permanent, a counter-balance to our public selves. It is the thing that we keep hidden well, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

It is the thing that we keep hidden well
by Gideon Burton

It is the thing that we keep hidden well,
a thing that we refuse to give a name.
For this, perhaps, it flexes, reaches, swells
to unpredicted girth one cannot tame
with bright diversions, cannot leach nor spill,
exfoliate nor immolate nor quell.
It worms its tendrils tight around the will,
compelling weak confessions one might sell
to selves less calloused to the pattern. So,
despite the exorcisms and the paint,
the breath of children and the river’s flow,
the chanting of religions deep or quaint,
it is the thing that on our dying lives,
that we embrace for every pain it gives.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - sufw

1 comment:

  1. I read this when you first posted it, and I keep coming back to it. Reading it over and over. Thinking about it.

    The idea of a struggle between two sides of ourselves reminds me of Cal in Steinbeck's "East of Eden", my favorite character in one of my favorite novels.

    I also like the severity of the photo you chose. It looks like a huge X-acto knife waiting to slice off any little parts that dare venture too far out of the shadow. I'm sure it could be a good thing to let some parts of me fall away, but cutting hurts. So out of fear of loosing something I think I need, or of pain, I pull back from the light.