Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Power of Hunger



author's note:

"Here is what has come to the surface after so many throes and convulsions."
                                --  Walt Whitman


THE POWER OF HUNGER

He decided to starve himself--

he needed to know
just how long he could go
without ingesting
even the merest morsel--

he hoped to show himself
he could be stronger than
he believed himself to be--

perhaps he could
redeem all past losses--
what appeared
to be repeated failure.

So he locked himself up
and anxiously waited
through the various stages--
     through the clawing hunger
     through the crying desperation--

he rounded the room
like a tortured animal--
he pounded his head
against the stone walls--
he tried to knock out
those voices screaming
     "You're dying, you're killing us!"

But finally his stomach lost
even the energy to beg--
it shriveled into a knot...

Unable to move, he just lay there
on the cold wet concrete floor--
with empty eyes, he stared up
into a darkness as black
as the well in the center of his being--

no desire remained in him
except the desire to maintain
his resolution--

he didn't care if frostbite ate his extremities--
he didn't care about the fever shaking him senseless--
he didn't care if he lived or if he died
as long as he didn't break his resolution,
as long as he didn't lose, once again.

So finally a team of experts
told him he'd must surrender
because they couldn't just stand there
and watch him kill himself
one breath at a time.

Since the decision
was theirs, not his
he allowed them to force him
to rise, to walk, to sit down to
a slow humble meal...

They kept him at a restrained pace
until he again became accustomed
to being a regular human being
with ordinary interests in this world...

But no one ever returns--not completely--

and though people feared
for the sanity of a man
whose eyes glowed so strangely...

when he quietly stepped
into a room, they also recognized
the power of all the ages,
the power of our time here--
the power of the life
of the human race--

they understood again
the strength created from
all our tribulations, all our storms,
all our trembling, weeping--the times
when good warm thought crumbles
under the weight of deprivation.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
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