The Photo Journal began as a prayer journal over the summer of 2021 while I worked in Central Oregon. It continues now as a series to be shared.
Observe the photo for a bit, then read the words below. If you’d like to hear it read by me, watch the video below and consider it some more. Or watch first, then read, or watch and read along. It’s for you to experience in your own way.
Insomnia August 1, 2021, Sunday
The ceiling holds fear in my thoughts. A climbing rope coiled around the cabin beams above my bed extends lengthwise from the door to the back of the cabin facing the road. I could reach up and untie it if I wanted. But I don’t want to. I could untie it and re-tie it. But I really don’t want to. I close my eyes feeling content and yet, I see creeping shapes past my eyelids in the distance. I open my eyes. Dark still, rope above, but no shapes. I close my eyes but swiftly open them again.
The shapes pose a threat to me. They follow me, trailing me. Sometimes I see them, sometimes they hide. They persist after me as shadows in the daylight and black beams oozing in the night. At day they rest behind me watching, offering me company that I didn’t want, looking over my shoulder at everything I do. At night they come before me and make themselves known. I tense my shoulders unconsciously protecting myself from them, on guard all the time. I feel their pressure in my temples. They’re everywhere.
Most people look up and see hope. I look up and see death. Α final end of it kind of death. But I don’t want it. I look down and see no place to go. I blink and look again and see my bare feet, Teva-tanned from being out in the sun for five minutes. Grounded for a moment. I look up at the ceiling and see the sturdy knots tied in the rope. I can’t.
I shut my eyes tight and see the oozing black shapes this time with faces. Smiling sharp yellow teeth and horns, red-faced like the devil. Gone. But the presence lingers. A featureless canyon appears in front of me.
I ignore it for another night. Slowly I drift off, eyes heavy with medicine-induced sleep.