Two Poems – by Manjiri Indurkar

by TBLM

Chocolate-dipped worms are delicious

To preserve the formatting, the poem has been made available in PDF. Please click here to access.

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Fight or Flight

The amygdala is a small part of your
brain that assesses threat, and sets your
fight or flight response in motion.
When the threat passes though, the amygdala
calms down and so does your body.
However, what do you do when your amygdala
can’t calm down? When the threat never passes?
It happens more often than you can
imagine, that your brain constantly fires stress
signals, and you respond to them, like a gunshot
survivor who ducks under the table at the sound
of a car backfire. Or a rape survivor who shudders
even at a gentle touch.

The medicines you take can slower your
responses, but I have got some bad news
for you, friends. They don’t let you
take in the love you’ve been seeking
post that traumatic episode which
always feels current, you’d think they added
the ‘post’ as a joke. Some mental health
humor for those in need of it.

Of the many maladies I suffer from, my favourite
has to be anxiety. The jokes that come with it
are precious. This one liner
for example: I have an anxiety disorder,
which means my anxiety orders dis and dat.

People with anxiety are the real
humourists, they can appreciate every
big and small, every dis and dat life hands them.
The rest of the world is just faking it.

But I digress. Let me get back to the real
reason why I am here, why anyone of us
is here, reading this poem, writing it
as we go. The real reason to write a poem,
says a friend, is to find love, like it is the
most profound discovery of the
post-postmodernist era. And perhaps it is.
With all the ailments the 21st century has
given us, love does sit forgotten, somewhere,
though always thought about. As we inch closer
to the all-consuming darkness of our depressions,
love could save us. If only we could recognize
it, if only our amygdala would stop firing
stress signals, telling us how every news
is bad news. How every dis and dat requires
a fight or a flight.

The road to recovery, says my therapist,
is filled with traffic signals. You
have to stop at the red light whenever
your amygdala takes its flight of fancy.
If you break the signals, you may
never make it out alive, the post of your post
traumatic reality may never get past you.
As I begin to panic again, she looks at me,
smiles and cracks a stale but funny joke.
How many psychiatrists, she asks, does it take to
change a light bulb?

When I don’t respond, she says,
only one, if the light bulb is willing to change.

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