Jove and the Arcadian Nymph

The Beast Within

Shadows haunt the walls of my mind,
Dancing like fire in a slippery, wet cave.
They’re called fear and self-loathing, anger and hurt.
It’s unclear where they came from, or if they can be integrated with their source.
Like Pan’s, they have a life of their own,
Distanced from joy and the frivolity of youth.
But maybe they’ve always been there, taunting me to play on their terms.
Because a beast sometimes raises from within,
Thrashing at everything in its wake.
Its true aim, though, is self-destruction.
It can’t stand its ugly claws and gnashing teeth,
Its slobbering face and the hideous cries
That are really just a call for help:
“Save me from myself.”
“Take the pain away.”
“Let me be the playful pup full of energy and innocence.”
“I can no longer stand these layers of mangy fur, coated in the oily refuse seeping from my soul.”
“This. Isn’t. Me.”

But the beast resides in a house of mirrors,
So all it sees is its own contortion,
Distorted at every turn.
Its cries only reverberate back to it,
Because it is caught in the echo chamber of its own mind.
This self-constructed prison is impervious to light,
No matter how lithe and enchanting.
There is no music or the murmur of birds,
Moving in a murmuration.
The beast only wants to hear and see what it believes to be true about itself.
It doesn’t want to change the story –
Or maybe it just doesn’t know where to start.

But maybe someday,
The beast will stop clawing at itself for a moment,
Will quiet the voices in its mind that fight to be heard,
And just be still.
It will stop leaking its slippery energy,
And its reserves will start to replenish.
The mange will soften to a sleek, black coat.
Its jaw will get a break from gnashing and gnawing,
So its teeth will straighten and strengthen,
And the slobber will only serve to lubricate its clear and beautiful voice.
The beast will learn to speak the words
That before it could only hoarsely yelp.
The beast’s entire image will be reinvented anew,
All because it learned to appreciate it,
Rather than tearing itself apart from the inside out.
The agonizing mirrors will fall away,
And the beast will be reunited with what lay behind them all along.

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