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?