- POETRY -

TWO POEMS

 

Chris Thibodeau

ISSUE ELEVEN | FALL 2018

CONTENT WARNING: SUICIDAL IDEATION, SELF-HARM, DEATH, + DEPRESSION

St. Christina the Astonishing is considered the patron saint of millers, people with mental illness, and mental health workers. Her life as a saint began when, at her funeral (she died at age 21 of some sort of seizure), she suddenly sat up in her casket and then levitated to the rafters. After that, she told everyone that she’d seen Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, and was given a choice. She could either stay in Heaven or go back to Earth and perform penance for souls in Purgatory. She chose the latter. She lived in destitution for most of the rest of her life and harmed herself in extreme ways, including standing in millwheels, throwing herself into fires, and floating in a river for days. According to contemporary accounts, though, her wounds never lasted for long after the initial hurt.

 

My full name is also Christina.

 

St. Christina the Astonishing Slips Into a Mill Wheel

Nothing my body endures can destroy it.

Even my thoughts have become indestructible,

Withstanding pressures that would leave others breathless,

Lost, confused, whimpering, wailing.

 

My thoughts have even become indestructible,

Though my therapist says they’re distortions, and they leave me

Lost, confused, whimpering, wailing.

They aren’t always bad, though. Not when they fuel my righteous anger.

 

Though my priest distorts what I say and they all leave me,

I have a purpose greater than pleasing my family and friends.

They aren’t always bad, though. Not when they fuel my righteous anger.

They remind me why I suffer.

 

I have no purpose greater than loving my family and friends--

When withstanding pressures that would leave others breathless,

They remind me that while I may suffer,

Nothing my mind endures can destroy it.

 

St. Christina the Astonishing Speaks of Miracles

 

“everyday you wake you raise the dead

everything you do is a miracle”

-a note on the body, Danez Smith

 

A miracle: my throat always wakes just after I do,

But especially that first morning with everyone staring,

As if all my awakenings before then hadn’t been miracles.

As if I hadn’t always been dead to them.

 

That first morning in the hospital, with everyone staring,

The morning after I almost decided not to wake again--

As if I hadn’t always felt dead--

I tried to list all of the reasons I’d decided to stay.

 

The morning after I almost decided not to wake again,

I thought that I must have made a mistake.

I tried to list all of the reasons I’d decided to stay

But remembered only one: I am unworthy unworthy unworthy

 

I thought that I must have made a mistake,

As if all my awakenings before hadn’t been miracles.

I could remember only one word: unworthy unworthy unworthy

A miracle: my heart always wakes just after I do.

Chris Thibodeau is a queer mentally ill poet from Indiana. Their work explores the intersections of those identities and their specific experiences. They continually strive to break down the stigma around mental illness. In their free time, Chris plays roller derby and goes to therapy.

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