“Genetic Weight” by Kristin Bryant Rajan

My 13 year old son
splayed across the bed
as if he’s fallen from a great height
stares at nothing,
glazed gaze toward ceiling.
Tears flow steadily from the corners of his eyes,
though he is so still:
no heaving,
no gasping for breath,
just an endless stream of tears
from an infinite source.

He is deep within a darkness
I know too well,
perhaps a darkness I have passed to him
from generations of darkness passed to me:
an ugly, bitter gift
not asked for.

I want to
hold him hard,
squeeze out all the tears,
absorb sad salinity into me,
so that emptied of this weight
he can go forward,
move from this shadowed bed,
into his full, young life
glistening with promise.

I want to
shake him into action,
scream so he will hear
that mobility breaks the webs that weigh him down.
Movement, unbearably heavy at first,
is lightened with more movement:
“Break through these leaden chains of sadness!
Keep moving and then the weight is lifted
and even the memory is faint.”

But he can’t hear me,
deafened by depression,
deadened by the heft of his emotion.

As I lie helpless next to him,
I feel the familiar web of darkness
begin to brush softly over me,
gradually enveloping me
in tranquilizing warmth,
feeling heavier and heavier myself,
until I, too, am paralyzed by weighted sadness,
pushing me down into these blankets
by my inability to pull him out from under.

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 2.08.54 PMKristin Bryant Rajan, PhD in English, writes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and literary criticism in Atlanta, GA. She is widely published in creative writing journals and anthologies as well as literary and academic journals. Her creative work can be found in The Watershed Review, The Explicator, Apeiron Review, Parks and Points, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine, Inlandia: A Literary Journal, among others, and the anthologies Moon Days, Just a Little More Time: 56 Writers on Love and Loss, Rorschach’s Ink, and Surprised by Joy, among others. She is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee. Her criticism investigates Buddhism and meditative moments of deep self in modernist literature, particularly the works of Virginia Woolf. She teaches English at Kennesaw State University and facilitates happiness workshops for faculty, students, and community groups. She is the founder of the KSU student meditation group and teaches spin classes at the Decatur YMCA. Her writing, research, teaching, and life are extensions of her daily meditation practice, illuminating the gifts in each moment.