The Dam


Artwork by Mary Callaway

Like a river held back by a dam, my thoughts lay still and somewhat dormant.

The dam makes the water pretty and motionless, and it protects the land downstream.


It’s beautiful. I point to the flowers that bloom along the bank.

It’s fun. I point to the ducks that play in the still water.


I was an upstream-swimming fish before – some unproductive loser.

Now that the dam is up, nasty fish can’t lay their eggs in my lake.


Time to become my best self –

Sayonara, salmon and suicidal thoughts!


But today,

Water boils up and begins its ascent over the edge of the dam.

What caused this? Did a bird raise the water level by dropping too many pebbles in the lake?

No. It’s the opposite. I forgot to take my pill today.


Is it okay to mess with my brain chemistry like that?

I think so, if it’s to protect my heart.


But this ongoing disaster is a result of my godplay

and I hurt worse than ever


The waves roll over the banks, destroying the flowers and drowning the ducks

My heart convulses as I watch the ecosystem die


The clouds darken, the climate changes as I swim upstream to the kitchen

I throw the pill in the back of my throat and splash fresh water in my mouth


Water stops the passage to my lungs, I try to breathe it out through my gills

My eyes turn outward around my head as I become the prey


A whirlpool of dark thoughts consumes me and I struggle to resurface for breath

I forget that the sun will return tomorrow

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