I've been going through a prolonged family crisis and have not posted recently. Life is too difficult and too demanding. I keep trying to do my work and trying to care my children. I don't have time for much else, but I decided to share some poems I wrote some years ago about old boyfriends. I was sexually abused at age four. As a survivor, I was used to painful relationships, and I kept repeating the pattern, one variation or another, over and over. Until I could afford more effective therapy, diaries and poetry were my therapy. The pages of my notebooks listened patiently to what others tired of hearing -- the weepy sadness over loves lost. I haven't figured out this part of my life yet. I think my life needs to be easier before I can date again. The easiest response is to retreat altogether. I've retreated in part because alone is easier, but also because life is too damned difficult for dating.
Well, anyway, the subject of this poem, a young man, now old and grey, was a wild land firefighter from my field biology internship back in 1980. He had committed to a girl in high school who left him after four years of a long distance relationship. He wasn't ready for commitment again so soon even though he knew I could not handle a casual relationship. He said so. I was too fragile. There were others who came after him, and not a few, because I had this habit of working with firefighters and fishermen, neither of which professions are inhabited by chaste men. But when the summer of 1980 was over for good, and August heat gave way to September breezes, I was never the same. The relationship and its demise was a turning point in my life. I was raped the next summer, the summer of 1981, as I struggled to cope with depression and low self esteem caused by love lost the summer before. I trusted the wrong two men, and a part of my life switched to off with 50 strips of duct taped over the toggle to hold it in place.
I wrote this poem during the summer of 1982 -- the year after the rape. I was thinking about the wild land firefighter from the summer of 1980. I was still grieving lost love as well as that newly lost portion of my wounded soul. I still worked in the same general area for a wild land government agency. I could stand in the yard of my house looking southeast across the Modoc Plateau and know he was out there, working with some of the same people I worked with.
I had been bold enough to visit the fire station where we had both lived and worked the summer of 1980 during the summer of 1981, just two weeks after I was raped. He was still there, still fighting fires. I held talk about the rape inside of me. I told no one. It was date rape. Why had I been so stupid? I knew why. Low self esteem, depression, clinging to the hope that these crumbs of attention might be something more, and they were more, but in a bad way.
At any rate, during my visit to the fire station in summer of 1981, my old fire fighter boyfriend seemed happy to see me when I stopped by our old station two weeks after the rape. He brought me ice water and cracked nervous jokes as we sat and reminisced with other firefighters. He invited me to come back the next day to give the station chief my gift of a can of olives in person instead of leaving them and not coming back, but when I came back the next day, the firefighter remained distant. Other firefighters tease him about me during the summer of 1980, and I wondered if they teased him once again, and he was not strong enough to be kind when others were making him miserable.
That third summer, the summer of 1982, he moved on to another fire station to a position with higher pay. I knew that. People we knew in common persisted in telling me about him. By then I was tired of grief. One day at dusk I sat on the floor of my lonely house and looked out the window at the distant range across the basin and thought of how he was out there, just fifty miles away across a few more ranges and basins, if I could walk that far and fast over the basalt rocks and sagebrush. Not so far away, but an eternity away.
Night fell and the Milky Way and a multitude of other stars blinked on over the plateau. All things astronomical came to my mind and the poem wrote itself from the tip of my pen marking the paper pages of my diary.
Into the Abyss
by Virginia Pickles Jones
Last thoughts only as I fall away,
A particle of planetary debris
Sucked into the black hole.
Whose gravity not even light escapes.
Now you see me;
Now I am a billion light years away
Across the universe,
Reborn as a microwave pulse oscillation
In your radio telescope,
Invisible to the naked eye.
Are we not all doomed to eternity
as Subnuclear particles,
Locked into the endless
Oscillations of matter,
Each of us
Our own black hole universe?
Our lives lost
In tidal expansions and contractions.
As you reach out to me
I am already gone,
Traveling away from you at the speed of light,
Matter to your antimatter,
Doomed to mutual destruction whenever we meet.