What is it?
It is a concept we so rarely describe in detail.
We've made up a specific word for it-
Three little syllables-
Just so that we can say it and be done with it,
And escape the contemplation.
But I know my own loneliness cannot be captured,
Cannot be encompassed,
By merely the word.
What is loneliness?
It comes in all shapes and sizes,
That can be big or small,
Sudden or excruciatingly slow,
Sharp or fuzzy at the edges.
It can even be comforting.
What is it about loneliness that is so insidious?
Harder to rid yourself of than fear
Or even such tricky, barbed things as doubt
Loneliness doesn't stick.
You stew in it.
It is beginning to occur to me that I don't believe,
Once one realizes loneliness for the first time,
That one is ever truly rid of it again,
Even for a second.
I think it is a permanence that we as a race refuse to acknowledge most of the time.
Some forms of lonely are fairly benign-
The little tingle on the edges of you, when you are home alone and the house is silent,
And for no apparent reason at all-
No sadness, no fear, no thought that is particularly unpleasant that you must drown out-
You nonetheless feel the compulsion to switch on the television
Even if you won't watch,
Just to break the stillness with a human voice besides your own.
Then there are the darker types, the truly ensnaring ones,
The lonelinesses born of the memory of times when,
Perhaps, you were less lonely,
Or even thought that you had flushed the feeling from your soul entirely.
Loneliness is an otherness,
An alien thing that lives in your heart,
That makes you question whether there is anyone out there who would have you
If they knew
What was on the inside.
There is the type of loneliness that creeps up on you and follows nipping at your heels like a shadow on the pavement as you move through your day,
Reminding you, whispering in your ear that here you felt less alone, and there, and that those places are full now,
Because those times have passed and not had the courtesy to clean up their cobwebs-
Memories linger in certain little spots, and collect like dust little pockets of loneliness that grab you all of a sudden,
The way forgotten spiderwebs stick in your hair as you move through an old house.
This type is jarring, disturbing, and
Afterwards I always feel the desperate need to wash away the feeling,
Scrub myself down.
There is the breed of loneliness that is a bit more genteel,
And curls cold at your feet like a well trained dog,
Formal and subtle, but constant,
This is the sort that makes you feel just somewhat hunted,
When you try to sit in silence by a fire at night in your living room
And find that you must read a book to drive the stillness from your head.
There is the truly hollow kind,
The kind that has no courtesy whatsoever,
And actually slithers into you, inhabiting your heart and stomach and bones
As you try to fall asleep
It is this kind that, if it is strong enough
(and you are weak enough)
For it to remain until morning
Forbids even the smallest human touch-
Every gesture of tenderness from another person
Makes this loneliness increase,
Every embrace, every handshake, every accidental contact of skin
And the afflicted shies away,
Perpetuating a cycle of vicious disconnection.
They all leave a little something cold, even when they recede,
In the core of you, that won't be dislodged no matter what you try.
Like a cancer,
Can only be considered in remission,
And never truly cured.
For when given room to prosper even for the space of a second it expands and swallows up your thoughts
Until they whither with frostbite.
I suppose I shouldn't be shocked-
As humans we live side by side, arms linked with
Most of the things that will eventually **** us,
What's one more, cozying up inside our skulls,
Inside our hearts?
We have a partnership-
An entirely human concept-
With all that destroys us.
And so we live with out loneliness, like a second shadow.
What is loneliness?
I am still unsure.
I can only describe what loneliness does,
Not what it is.
*I think that maybe to understand it
Would be to die of it.