Seeking a calm place in the storm in Daydreaming on the Porch

  • Sept. 23, 2021, 12:44 p.m.
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  • Public

I was going through things earlier this evening as I sorted and packed boxes for my big move, and came across this poem written in December 1978 when I was 27. It was the first actual, serious poem I had ever written, and I felt compelled to write it, as I was in the early stages of an agonizing period of depression.

The poem is about the anxiety that precedes the deepest pain one can know. Decades ago I had two best friends, the one-in-a-lifetime kind of friends. We could talk long into the night about anything. I still can hardly believe such a friendship could exist, but in fact it did. In the following poem I was afraid I’d lost that friendship, and in a sense I had, even though we’ve kept in touch sporadically over the years. So, it’s about very deep loss, because I had also lost my job at this time, but as I re-read it just a short while ago after many years, I realized it was also about hope, the calm and peace that comes from Nature, and, finally, healing and, yes, acceptance.


Before a winter storm at night, clouds passed,
Filtering the full moon’s translucence,
Pushed by winds that touch the earth with chill,
Filling the night with expectancy.

I hear this winds urgency.
It is the harried pulse of the elements
Purging itself of the old season,
Endeavoring to change the air and land and Sea.
Mark these words I would throw at you, Wind!
But there are none.
Only stillness in me.

I seem to beckon you, sorrow
To follow me across the dunes to the sea’s edge.
And there, in semi-darkness of the moon’s half light
I close my hands and feel the wind upon me,
Rushing past, buffeting me with their force
Until I want to run.

Behind the wind, voices follow. They
become one voice.
I want to hear it more clearly.
Inscrutably muffled
It poises on the edge of the din
Until drowned by the tumult.

Voice, if you know who I am
Strike the stillness,
Breathe into the wind,
Banish the moon into the night
Let this storm pass so that I may know of the calm.

Warm night yields to cold day.
Marsh crackles with russet-brown deadness,
Alive with birds in migratory trance
Aloft in azure skies
Their winged march defies winter’s reproach.

Daylight, is what I see all that I know?
Night has told me otherwise.
Caught between seasons
I am their kin for a while.
Warm and cold, my impulses are deadened,
Then slowly rekindled, revived
In the heat of recognition
Of knowing what I must do.

At night I think I see beyond this realm,
But the moon’s lantern becomes a burden.
Then I fall back, down from the lighthouse. A cat’s eyes glow in the dark.
Palmetto trees rustle unseen.
The surf’s distant murmur
Gently strikes muffled senses.

Though alone
I felt the presence
I could not know then,
For it left me as I slept the Deep Sleep,
Not even able to recall my dreams.
How I needed to be reminded of you.

My worth tangles in a sling – broken.
Imagined pain hardens resolve,
But leaves it spinning like a compass askew.
What magnet is it that pulls this splintered being toward it?

Feigned pleasures dance sluggishly in brittle imaginings
Underpinnings of unrealized desires
Bald entitlements, this world all around cries.
What have I done but think of illusions?

Fiery points of light skim water,
Shining clarity
Fool’s dreams
Have lost their poignancy,
For they are as ephemeral as reflections.
I have taken in deep draughts of salt air, Feeling calm preceding joy.
Not the gull’s cry but the voice that came into me
Will shake the stasis
And reconcile night and day.

Last updated September 24, 2021

Jinn September 23, 2021

Lovely , sad , and reflective .

Oswego Jinn ⋅ September 24, 2021

This poem came from the deepest kind of introspection.

ODSago September 24, 2021

An amazing poem and to read it years later must have triggered something like a desire to put your arms around the shoulders of that younger you and say how grateful you are for his message and what it means now, to the older man you are today. Thanks for sharing that poem, Oswego. Very brave of you to do that.

ConnieK September 24, 2021

Does it speak to you in a different way since when you first wrote this?

Marg October 06, 2021

Very evocative poem! Does it still stir the same feelings in you now when you read it?

Oswego Marg ⋅ October 07, 2021

It’s like a totally different poem today. Back then, 43 years ago, it was written at a time of encroaching fear of total loss and unknown terrible trials ahead. A cry for understanding, a search for salvation. Today, it is an affirmation of hope and persistence in the face of extreme adversity where one’s whole world is crumbling.

Marg Oswego ⋅ October 07, 2021

That’s really interesting that its meaning has changed according to your situation! What power poetry has! When you say one’s whole world is crumbling do you mean the move?

Oswego Marg ⋅ October 08, 2021

No, actually I was referring to the situation that gave rise to the poem in 1979. A most awful time.

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