Marja Hagborg – Clowns and Magician: Poetry out of PTSD

“Clowns and Magicians” and “The Arsonist and The Jaguar” were written about a year apart. They are about my PTSD, which went on without correct diagnosis until, as a fluke, I met a trauma therapist with the right education, experience and empathy to heal the wounds stemming from my childhood.

1. The Arsonist

Now it is successfully burnt down, the house that used to be me. What’s left is a smoldering patch in the woods. Vague smoke is still lingering under low hanging aloof sky.

What are we going to do with the ashes?

Please, no sentimentality here, Ma’am.

Rain washed everything away, every residue of a faulty life, wrongful thoughts, false – and sometimes shameful – desires, all that once felt sincere. Such a pity!

Storm crushed the last lofty aspirations, and even inappropriate imaginary friends. In the end wind wiped the place clean with wide and quiet owl wings.

But what am I supposed to do now?
I’m just asking.

Beili Liu, "Wind Drawing"
Beili Liu, “Wind Drawing”

2. The Jaguar

A black jaguar with shiny fur and yellow eyes makes loops in the air while millions of diamonds fall like rain over the plaza in the sleepy morning sun. No one seems to see what’s happening; only I, a stranger, am amazed and breathless.

The wind is still chilly after a cool night, but the sun warms the air and my shivering body. Am I shivering because I’m cold, or because the big black cat with its magic takes my breath away? The trees around the plaza bend toward me whispering me to stay.

What I’m leaving behind is the world full of trivialities, empty words and gestures and forced smiles. Those people are hideous! Don’t they understand that I can see through the plastic film covering their faces? The faces behind smiling masks belong to sinister liars and gullible slaves of lies.

The decision is made; I’m already light years away from the sinking gunk city and its inhabitants with their programmed heads and rule books that can’t be revised. Ever. Did I feel an urge to tell them to escape? It would have been useless; no one would have listened to me anyway.

On the plaza, surrounded by whispering trees and warming sun, I feel alive and free from my past. For a moment I feel dizzy and happy like a child in a merry-go-round. When the spinning stops, the magical black jaguar continues making loops in the air in front of me again and again while millions of diamonds rain over the plaza.

Marja Hagborg

M.H. is a Scandinavian-born writer/artist who received her MFA ages ago from University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She lives with a Viking husband and twin cats in Chicago and writes mostly dark short fiction.