The Eye of PTSD

PTSD happens without warning. This week, I stayed at my god-daughter’s while attending The Healing Art of Writing Workshop. Each night before I went to bed, I warmed up the room with a heating lamp; its glow was friendly and warm. I usually turned it off well before I shut the light. One night though, I unplugged the lamp just after turning out the light; in the dark, the glow was a fierce and frightening orange. A PTSD moment took hold of me.  Later, I wrote this poem, which helped me cope.

Oh, that heating lamp, that orange unblinking eye

of Hades. My fired up amygdala clanged and bonged

like fire engines called to a house already in flames.

I stood, stuck, frozen, staring at the cyclops eye–giant,

throbbing pulsar–wondering what memory its Big Bang:

a  lamp in the operating room, glaring at baby me strapped

on a gurney, the surgical field of my belly aflare.


When had I first seen that paralyzing orb?

What will put out the fire once and for all?

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