The Hermit

You hold tightly to the belief
that there is only one being inside you.
How you will survive?

Your fear strangles you
whenever you hear a voice
that comes from within you,

a voice you do not recognize
that seems to know you. You say
it is just self-distortion, a mad memory.

Learned books have long said
it is vital to bring all beings within us
together under one name. Bah —

do not surrender your life
to learned books. Suppose instead
that you are a shell, a community,

and you long ago locked your doors
to the others. You’ve become the hermit
on the edge of their town,

the one they tell stories about.
Have you heard any of them? Maybe they
are curious or furious, as frightened of you

as you are of them? You should at least
crack open your door and listen. Ask them
to tell you their names and what they know

of you. Offer them a small meal
if they agree to come sit before the fire
in your hermitage. Don’t talk. Don’t

argue with them. Call them by their
names as you thank them
each in turn for what you learn.

Once they leave, not long before dawn,
you will sit by the coals until you fall well-asleep
for the first time in a long, long time.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

One response to “The Hermit

  • Eileen

    Did a Jungian inner journey around midlife. Went to visit my mother at the nursing home after a very disconcerting session with my spiritual director about a “shadow” I have. Didn’t want to believe I wasn’t just the kind generous persona I clung to. Mom had Alzheimer’s and had reached an almost comatose stage, so I just sat holding her hand while thinking to myself that I did not have the mean person dreams were showing. Mom’s roommate had only been there a few weeks and had appeared also to be comatose and unresponsive. But as I sat there in denial, she raised up on one elbow looking straight at me and said in a strong clear voice, “You aren’t who you thought you were, are you?” She then lay back down and as far as I know never said anything else to anyone before she died a couple of weeks later.
    So much for denial! 🙂

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