Of my feelings
I can never forget that I am their host.
They possess me, not I, them.
And I have nightmares of exorcisms
and what they would leave me.
Better the devils you know.
28 September 1986
Not one of The Drowning Man poems but certainly related. The title comes from Mark 5:9, “Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’” Jesus is, of course, addressing a demon-possessed man. In the end the demons leave the man and enter a large herd of pigs (about two thousand according to the account) that then rush down a steep bank into a lake and drown. The account raises some interesting questions like How come the demons could get into the man on their own but needed permission to leave him? but I’m not really interested in debating them. The story provides a good metaphor for how I was feeling at the time contending with a host of feelings that I wasn’t ready to accept as my own. I suppose it really should be ‘horde’ of feelings if we’re talking about demons and not angels.
What of the man? “When [the townspeople] came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind…” (Mark 5:15). Good for him. But what about me? If I managed to rid myself of all these feeling—maybe not two thousand but a lot—where would that leave me?