Assignment: Describe Depression.

By Any Name
— for Robin Williams, August 11, 2014.

Dick Cavett described it best.
He said at its
worst, if there was a cure for it on your bedside table
and you simply had to reach out and take it,
it would require a

strength you did not have.
Since time began
Others afflicted have weighed in.
To Sylvia Plath it felt like a
bell jar.
Black dogs
is popular but not mean enough,
The dogs would have to be rabid, loose,

Slough of despond
from a Welsh pundit sounds almost like
a poetic interlude.
The mean reds
was Billie Holiday’s but sorry, Lady Day, too

Country singers tell us time and again about
their plain old blues.
From William Styron came
Darkness Visible.
And he was one who

For me
It’s a thief,
the worst kind.
Cavalierly stealing my wit, my smile,
my every trace of ease.
It’s wilier than me, and
without the slightest inclination
of giving up or
looking back.

Catherine and James McCallum

I visited my parent’s graveside yesterday

I was in my hometown again after many years to speak at a memorial of a dear high school friend, a soul mate of mine. I think we kept each other from going crazy in those early years.

The day following the event I left my hotel with a large coffee in hand and headed for the cemetery and a visit to my parents’ graveside.

It was a perfectly glorious day. Sun splitting the rocks, fall colours abounding in full splendor, a light breeze scattering the few clouds above.  I was the only person in the entire cemetery. Aren’t Sundays the day people visit these places? My only company was a symphony of bird calls from the forest behind the gravesites. I couldn’t have ordered better accompaniment for the visit.

I cleaned off the debris from their stone, now slightly weathered, laid down the small stone angel I had brought to place there, and sat down on my blanket, also brought for the occasion.

Where to start, mother and father? Mom, you’ve been gone 22 years, Dad over 20. Your grandchildren, some of whom you never met, are grown and thriving, and carry so many of your hallmark characteristics. Scott’s twin Brooke has your forthright manner, Dad, and no nonsense demeanour. But she still loves a good laugh, just as you did. Mom, I see your gentleness in Dana, and your disinclination to judge.

Father, you said we didn’t need a place to come like this, that we’d remember you without it, and of course you were right. But on a rare day like this it is a place to come and be alone with you. To just be.

I trace your names etched alongside one another on the stone.

Are you together in heaven too? I have no idea about any of that. But what a lovely thought. One I’ll hold on to, for today at least.

And while I’m at it I’ll think of you both deliriously happy, somewhere, beyond anything we know.

Writer and Poet

Tricia McCallum profile

Tricia McCallum

Always be a poet. Even in prose.
Charles Baudelaire.

In essence I am a storyteller who writes poems. Put simply, I write the poems I want to read.[…]

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