Pilgrim

By Martina Kontos

The morning air is soft and buttery,

it revives my aching lungs 

tired from perpetually revitalising

a body out of place, a mind in need of grace.

My blanket is the woodland leaves,

crimson, bronze, and green, 

fallen overnight from where I’ve laid my head

praying for rest from my journey.

The climb up the mountain does not compare

to the town I lived at below it,

where everyone was perfectly accepting of me

but I could not accept their perfect love.

Half of the year was bathed in golden sunlight,

yet I could only see the months in vacuum-black,

and for years, I let the darkness swallow me gladly.

I even offered it my heart to keep it thriving,

because what good is living under the sun

when you are bound to suffer burns?

As the sun retracted its nourishment, 

I knew I had to leave the town in search of this fading star,

or let the darkness enshroud me and die.

And so I left, with nothing more than the clothes on my back,

and this morning I have awoken on a mountain

I had no intention of climbing.

The peak is near, I see its cloudy nimbus approaching,

yet doubts still swirl around my head,

and I fear I can’t reproach them.

For how can I succeed in what I’ve set out to do

if I cannot achieve a small win in my mind?

A thundercloud rolls overhead, the peak disappears from sight,

and it starts to rain, the drops ricocheting off my pin-bone ribs.

I sit on the side of the mountain, I stop to think.

I realise that’s the issue–I’ve thought my way to death,

to starvation, to fear, to misinterpretation,

because the world is only as bad as its citizens,

and its citizens as bad as their thoughts.

And so I rise, shedding myself of my inhibitions.

I step through the shield of rain, making it part for me.

The rain stops, the clouds disperse, 

I make my way to the top.

And when I arrive, the sun is there and says to me,

well done.

 

This piece was shortlisted in the 2021 mindshare Awards, presented by mindshare, Writers SA, Access2Arts, and the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia. More info here

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