Thurman P. Woodfork

ABSENT DEMONS

What is this vague but unrelenting discontent? When did ambition quietly slip away and leave gentle despair in its place? Talents languish undeveloped waiting for tomorrow as tomorrow plods wearily on to become today, then fades unexploited into yesterday. Aspirations molder away like once favored toys now tossed into a corner to lie neglected and forgotten. Where did this deep, abiding, banked anger come from? Will it ever leave?

Now, after a reunion, there is the unsettling memory of an old friend smiling in happy surprise: “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you really laugh.” Seeing me regularly for five and often six days I week, how could he not have heard me laugh? I’m left wondering if that could possibly be true. He never heard me really laugh even once in three years? If it is true, why should it be?

For there are no disturbing memories that trouble my waking hours; no demons come unbidden in the night to disrupt my dreamless sleep – if I finally do go to sleep. I only know that I want something that I realize is obtainable but that I cannot muster enough caring to reach for and grasp. Why is that? When did spring come and go without my caring or even acknowledging it?

I have always loved the smell of spring as the earth awakened and renewed itself. Now spring has come and gone, summer is here and the rose bushes remain untended. I’ve come to understand what this misquoted bit of Shakespeare means: “How can it be summer when I am in the winter of my discontent?” Not even reuniting with old friends can ease this malaise. Bleak and barren is what I feel, and suicide is not an option.

So I will bear it as I have borne it for all these long, weary years. And only a few people will ever realize – as I now do – that, although I smile a lot, I seldom ever really laugh. But then… there are no demons.