MCMXCIX //behind the veil

there are things
that make us glide behind a veil
’til no one reaches us anymore,
not even ourselves,
our hands failing to touch because
there’s too much broken territory,
& we’re afraid to feel the cracks
and scratch the bit of
what is still alive // 1999

started on a friday, it
was the 10th and last year
of the 90’s, close to the end of the
second millennium & i

was lying in a hospital
behind the veil, future grace
versus anxiety, a ruthless fight & Piper
was the only one that broke through–
the angst, that ate my breath during
restless nights when i listened
to my neighbor, wailing in her sleep,
counting how much it was, that
was left of me between the sheets that
held me with thick, iron strings
around my chest, my brain, a
suffocating mess of fear and nothing
left that i was able to control, not even
my emotions like tonight when–

tears in my lap as i re-read
the diary entries, that i wrote back then
with shaking hand, standing
at the mouth of a depression
with its black tongue placed
between my teeth, limbs entwined
around my waist, at the crossroad
of this winding path, where
we close our eyes and hope,

&   H //O //P //E

that we’re immortal,

but we’re not–


in january 1999 i was in hospital, having a surgery and they thought it was cancer…luckily it was not.. the book i was reading during that time was John Piper’s “Future Grace”, carried me through in a way.. over at dVerse, Shawna of RosemaryMint is tending the poetics bar tonight…and she takes us a bit back in time.. gates open at 3pm EST… 


55 responses to “MCMXCIX //behind the veil

  1. Very frightening, Claudia. I have had those kinds of fears occasionally in life as well. Last time was last week when I faced fear myself, had an ultrasound. I was so relieved the next day when the MD said all was normal. And I know what you mean about reading old diary entries (or old poems) of those scary times. You feel the fear and cry all over again, with a tinge of thankfulness as well. Live each day.

  2. These moments that make or break us, tearing us to shreds and leaving no blueprint how to piece back the puzzle – this who we are. Your words hit so close to home in me. For that place, that spiritual land where all seems lost was where I hung my hat for so long. Though we might find the way out, to new hearths, it always stamps its seal in our hearts. Your is blissful for me, since I see it as a way sign of hope for many, warning for others. Your words turn to song life as it is known in process of becoming who you are.

  3. wow…honest and raw….esp the tongue int he mouth and entwining because that is just the way that incidious fear will grip you…i am sorry you had to go through it…glad you found piper in the process….and glad you kept a diary as well it is important to capture those moments….

  4. Wow Claudia, you caught my attention with the first few lines. I then found myself going with you to that dark and painful place we all experience at one time or another. But you poetic description of that journey is without equal. Beautiful and haunting.

  5. Oh yes, behind the veil…but it’s not safe there either. What a powerful write. I feel it too, right with you. Your description of depression is agonizing good. Glad your back from there.

  6. The terror of our mortality, whenever, however it comes, is a rending and also crushing thing, so well described here, Claudia. These are the things that shape us, by surviving them. Fine poem.

  7. I felt your heart here…I had my scary and terror filled moments too so I can resonate with your experience in the hospital. Lovely share ~

  8. The wailing of other patients in the hospital does have a way of increasing our own fears…the emotions you discuss are familiar to me…powerful poem.

  9. I feel every word and every breath in this poem…sad you had to go through it and thankful that you are okay now. Hugs .

  10. your poem hits me hard in the chest… I’ve been there too, so close. love your way with words especially here:

    at the mouth of a depression
    with its black tongue placed
    between my teeth,

  11. Claudia, extremely moving piece. So sorry to hear you had to endure what must have been an incredible difficult time. Hope is a good ending here as things did turn better and perhaps, if only one person read this, but that person needed to connect as they were going through a similar experience…well that is poetry at its core. It is odd I’ve found, that when you are dealing with something internally, I’ve also found that messages seem to appear in the most unlikely and/or through reading, not necessarily about your problem but anything, and something just fits for you at that time- I truly believe that is God putting his hand on your shoulder telling you it’ll be alright. Great write. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. Real scary when it happened. Had my share of hospital beds too! You felt the despair and the loneliness. The scary bit was facing it alone.


  13. “that make us glide behind a veil
    ’til no one reaches us anymore,
    not even ourselves” … you just about made me cry with this part

    “behind the veil, future grace
    versus anxiety” … love the way you came back to the veil here

    I also love these lines:
    “suffocating mess of fear and nothing
    left that i was able to control”

    “at the mouth of a depression
    with its black tongue placed
    between my teeth”

    This was a hard one to read, Claudia. But intensely powerful.

  14. very very dark. when i read “glide behind the veil” i was hoping it would be something upbeat, specifically belly dancing…but it wasn’t.

    what i’m not sure about is were you really in the hospital then?

  15. My heart goes out to you. As you can see by my piece, I was myself struggling around that time.

    Love the way you portray that period. Always hope.

  16. intense indeed. dark images, all so very real, which accounts for the lean fear factor of the piece. we will certainly leave this life but we don’t live that way often. the gift of those trying times, i would guess, is to see the fleeting nature of life here.

  17. You’ve described it so well… the darkness and fear, threatening our lives and our children’s. We certainly come face to face with not being in control. Piper is wonderful, glad he broke through. Glad you came through… I have to think it made you a better poet… person.

  18. Claudia…this scares me to the core. The goosebumps that have risen at the thought. The mention of your neighbor…all these things, the hospital environment, the not knowing. Wow…I for one, am incredibly grateful for your share, and the fact you were here to do just that.

  19. It is scary being in hospital. One time I was in and was in a mixed ward, through the night someone was screaming and out of it on morphine I guess, and then it suddenly went quiet. My mind was filled with wondering then if this person had died.
    Glad you made it through your time there but, you can tell from this piece, it left you with deep, emotional memories.

  20. “at the mouth of a depression
    with its black tongue placed
    between my teeth,”
    Loved this part.
    I’m on the verge of crying.
    Your first stanza echoed so true to me, it sounded so familiar.
    This was terrifying and absolutely beautiful.
    I’m sorry you had to go through all of that but, I am very glad you’ve made it through gracefully =)
    Hospitals are scary. I am forever scarred for staying at the Psychiatric Ward… Ugh.
    I had missed reading your work, this was a great piece to come back to.
    Thanks for the read!

  21. In suffering with depression, I find this

    ““at the mouth of a depression
    with its black tongue placed
    between my teeth,”

    And that sums it up so well.

    Glad the cancer wasn’t cancer.

  22. Wow…this one was really hard to read. Great job in sharing as I could feel the pain and the fear.

    Also appreciate your note at the end as I wondered if you were referencing John Piper in your poem…nice to have the confirmation…I’ve enjoyed a lot of his stuff.

  23. sounds like a dark time – understandably so. The way you wrote this was very suspenseful for me. My heart is still racing a bit.

  24. Ooh that’s powerful writing, Claudia. I suspect about as deep as any poet can go; and not on a daily basis! Thanks to you and thanks to Natasha for sharing this gem.

  25. where
    we close our eyes and hope,

    & H //O //P //E

    that we’re immortal,

    but we’re not–

    Maybe we are and maybe we’re not, but I have the feeling that the spirit that wrote this is definitely so.

    Gut-screwing, but fantastic.

  26. Sometimes the worst events are cabled, somehow, with the best of what we become, like strands of a torc of moon silver and bright gold we wear around our necks. What got us through got us here, with the full knowledge of how easy it could have been to simply fade. Defining moments power this poem as much as it has its poet; a good nod to background we otherwise wouldn’t see. Good work, Claudia.

  27. That is such a dark place to be in. I spent over a month in hospital with some badly broken bones. And it too made me realize how fragile our bodies are and that we are not immortal. And no amount of hope can change that. Gripping poem Claudia.

  28. so powerful claudia, and to hear you express how you re-read that time, then have re-expressed it here, i am humbled by your experience…

    “the angst, that ate my breath”

  29. You shared something intimate and in the process gave us a special gift – a look straight in the face of darkness and we know, because we are past it, that you didn’t succumb to it. That we came through times of struggle and pain to be here, now, is wonderful. Honoured you shared this, it is a powerful write my dear.

  30. Thank you so much for sharing this sad, tortured moment of your life. I’m relieved to hear you’re doing better. I was at the hospital myself yesterday night; so reading this poem as I’m waking up is almost creepy…
    A line that made me shiver: “the angst, that ate my breath”

  31. We always hide behind the veil…and depression is the dark place…a scary place. 🙂 very powerful post.

  32. So different from the healthy vibrant woman we know today! I think facing that kind of fear and realizing the worth of hope and living bolsters us, reinforces courage, gives a vision of what we want and we learn how to wind through the forces set against us, our own reluctance, to make what we want happen. Your courage blazes through this memoir. Wonderfully written.

  33. Pure honesty- thus is real life spilled straight from the guts. This is quite brilliantly told- and I got a vision, a demonic vision almost of the devil of depression snaking around you, whilst you fought off his advances. This had me gripped- and I felt your anxiety, your fear- just left me speechless. So good- thank you for sharing something so personal

  34. That can be very scary. You captured the time masterfully as always. I have missed your voice. A great treat to leave a comment. I hope you are still well!

  35. I’ve laid in the hospital a couple of times where surgery was necessary to see if there was cancer…not a good place to be but all turned out well. Also, can relate to gliding behind the veil of depression and wondering if I would ever feel happy again. You tell your story so very well.

  36. Incredibly brave sharing, Claudia. I had seen on twitter that you read this on dVerse Poetics, right? Oh, wow–have YOU come a long way, girl! So VERY pleased with you about how artfully and successfully you are managing your journey forward!