Pressing Ghosts

Maybe some of you have read the beautiful and powerful work of the poet, Hannah Stephenson on her blog  I have been recently inspired in particular by the below poem.  She writes about something I know well and have spent a lot of time thinking about and writing about:  my inner critic.  Here is how Hannah puts her to words.  Thank you, Hannah.

yrs. Laura


Pressing Ghosts

by Hannah Stephenson

One morning, my mind woke up
but my body did not go anywhere.
I summoned my extremities, but
they remained slack against
the mattress. It soon wore off,
like drunkenness. Sleep paralysis,
science explains. Muscle lagging
behind consciousness a bit
more than usual. In folklore’s
jurisdiction, this is known as
a pressing ghost, kanashibari.
The condition of being fastened
with unseen metal, of being held
down by shadow. Don’t get up,
the pressing ghost murmurs above us,
and we don’t. Eventually, they release
us, wheel away into the air like bats.
Your hesitation before unlatching
your guitar, the way you cringe before
bringing your fingers to its strings
if anyone else is with you. Each fear
dripping within you, as water droplets
form at the end of icicles and fall.
This, too, is a pressing ghost. You will
look stupid, one says. Or You can
never finish this. I’ll show you mine:
They will think you are selfish.
The things you make are unremarkable.
How to deal with the spirits of paralysis.
Let us form a strategy. When doubt
presses itself across my chest,
issuing its fine mist of deprecation,
selfishhhh, dullnessss, I will not move
because I cannot, but I will look at it
and answer with this thought:
Even so, I keep creating, I am capable.
I will calmly allow its heaviness
and stand when it goes. It will.


Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, My Posts

4 Responses to Pressing Ghosts

  1. Joy

    EXCEPTIONAL!!! I LOVE it. “Even so, I keep creating, I am capable.” YES, I AM capable!!!!!
    That is what I need to hear from myself as I create as a nurse, a massage therapist, an organic farmer, as a woman learning to love myself, learning to love my post-mastectomy body and allowing my soul to expand to possibilities. It is part of being committed not to suffer. Thank you, Laura, for sharing this lovely poem. Thank you for being out there and being willing to share from your heart. Life feels less lonely because of this connection!

    • lauramunson

      I love how we can all connect out here in heart language from the trenches– less lonely for us all. Thanks for sharing, Joy. Gave me the chills. yrs. Laura

    • lauramunson

      OMG– a personal joke from my book. I love that. All forward, it is. Deep breaths and accepting the rapids as they come… Thanks, Yve. yrs. Laura

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