This is a series of vignettes drawn from a larger unfinished work entitled A Suicide. It is a narrative poem written in the first person. You might think it is about me — it’s not. As a physician and psychiatrist, it can be both a great gift and a curse that patient stories often become our stories.
EXCERPTS FROM A SUICIDE
It has something to do with edges, the corners
of my room, the way sun streaks through my shutters
and seeks out every angle, slicing deep
into shadows, marking the walls and exposing the floor.
These walls are not perfect, my ground, uneven,
the cracks and pits are caught by light
and magnified – grotesque, unfathomed flaws.
When I was young, I once saw a crack so long
it seemed bigger than any wall, stronger than any plaster.
Breaking loose and splitting wide, this fantastic chasm,
this monstrous mouth, would swallow whole my house.
Such cracks are always waiting, waiting to take me in.
Something is wrong in my room,
but it cannot be me, it is not
my head, my brain is perfect,
unflawed. I have vision, I reason
beyond all limits. The problem
isn’t there, it isn’t
my mind. It is
what I lack, I do
I cannot reach, my touch is loose.
This is the day
I have always waited for.
All my life has tilted
towards this point.
A hot day in the middle
of August, a perfect
reflection of every day
I have ever known.
This is to be
that delicious day
when all the thousand
wrongs of my life
will be set right.
Everything will be focussed
into a few final moments
and dispersed by one wave
of my hand, tossed out
into the sky, crimson dissolving
into blue, casting a purple
haze over the horizon.
Grasping for life, I feel
the touch of fingers tight
on this gun. These are
my fingers, this is my hand.
I reach deep
into my mouth, searching
for the softest spot, the surest
way through my neck.
Probing gently towards this delicate
sweetbread of my throat, it seems
this gun has always been here.
Curling my lips tight
on the barrel, I can taste
charcoal and steel. I shiver
to the touch of cold metal
held by my teeth. These are
my teeth, this is my kiss.
I sense the sharp snap
of the trigger, I smell
the smoke swelling
within the chamber.
But the hard crack
is beyond me: I leave that for others to hear.
In this final moment
as metal touch metal
and sulphur sparks saltpeter
into carbon dust, a chunk of lead
is set into motion. A thick sea of blood
and gristle flows within the wake of this bullet,
severing ganglia and splitting cord as the soft element
mushrooms into hard bone. There is a bloom of life
as brilliant and fantastic as the billowing smoke
and heated flame bursting from my pistol.
KURT BIEHL ©2012