Psalm 23, A Psalm of David: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Tainted.

I am tainted:
Used over and over again,
to the point that I am utterly useless.

I am contaminated:
Tarnished.
Blemished.

My heart has been misused.
I am not just blemished.
I am stained.
Stained with heartbreak.

Every day this stain sets in, wounding me.
It has now become a scar.

This makes no sense.
The only sensible statement
that I can stutter is that

I am slowly s-s-slipping.
Slipping into nothingness,
no one around me except
the nonsense in my head.

Anyone with
the audacity,
the nerve, or
the sheer courage

to tiptoe toward me is
one step away from a
slap in the face.

I didn’t intend to hurt you too.
So for now, I will simply
step on your toes as you
teeter toward the edge.

You don’t want to come into
this valley that has enveloped me.

This is
the valley
of the shadow
of death.

Death is lurking around

every corner

with every

step forward.

Sometimes I start walking,
hiking up this undefeatable mountain,
but every time,

EVERY.
DAMN.
TIME.

I slip.

When I slip,
I not only fall,
I roll over myself
until I am stopped.

Again.

Suicide is so tempting.
There is no one here.

I am a wounded animal,
lost in the wild.
Everyone is the enemy.

Yet slowly,
in my loneliness,
with my crippled soul,

I become my worst enemy.

Instead of attempting to
creep further from Death,
I turn toward her.

Once, I saw her face and
looked into her eyes, and
I managed to get out alive.

I was not as ready as I thought,
but I am afraid that someday,
I will not be so cautious when
Death creeps closer.

I am afraid
that someday
I will fall into
her embrace
and be trapped.
No turning back.

Her arms will engulf me.
I will ask for more time,
but she will not hear as
my muffled cries get lost
in the fabric of her gown.

“I have been waiting, my love,”
she will whisper to me softly
as I shudder in silence.

She will slowly take in my soul.

I will scream.

In my mind,
that is,
as I forget
the common
truth that…

…Death feeds off fear.

The only thing scarier than Death
is the thought of

continuing life

the way it is.

Why, then, am I scared?
Everyone is the enemy to me.

I survive by surrounding myself with silence.
To allow someone else into my solitude
means to release the key to my demise.

Another imperfect being will use it and
discover my deepest fear
with the click of a figurative lock
and the turn of a metaphorical doorknob
“Never again will I let another in,”
I promised myself.
Yet here I am.

Alone. I am alone,
yet the feeling of
loneliness evades me.

There is someone
approaching slowly.

“Evil is near.”
He whispers,
taking my hand.

My fickle, sorry self
cannot understand this
restoration of the soul
that begins to unfold.

I stop to ponder the mystery
of where I was and where I am.

Where is he taking me?

Despite the depths of sorrow
contained in this valley’s deep,
I cannot help but overflow
as heaps of fear fall at my feet.

Where has he taken me?

Suddenly the path is not so steep.
We stop. I have been here before.

He takes my hand again,
kissing my tainted skin.
“Rest near the water, love, in peace.”
Recognizing this river, I fall to my knees.

I see myself in the water,
not as I am, but as I was.

The reflection reveals
the darkest of nights.
Nights spent releasing
streams of sadness
from my eyes.

He wipes the latest tear away.
Trickling into this lake of sorrows
the smallest drop finds her place.

My skin softens under his caress.
“I have been waiting, my love.”
He whispers as I whimper,
cherishing every breath.

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