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  • Writer's pictureTaryn Dunkin

The Upside Down

*Trigger warning. A poem written in a wilderness of darkness, during treatment for chronic illness.

Inside the



baby’s breath is plucked from every bed

as it buds with ruthless claws.

Air is snatched out of parched lips

that grasp desperately

for a cool taste of a deep inhale.

Its usual sweetness burns

through constricted exhales

that twist sinuously in midair

permitting just enough wheezing for





smiling, moving and laughing.

I’ve been locked away again

inside the invisible place. The genuine

and familiar sound of my own voice is

contorted by a black atmosphere into

an eerie, distant off-note. How can

anyone see you are not you, when it is

so natural to impersonate yourself?

Every word and blossom slithers

through my stomach. The sun pulses

too brightly and loudly in my ears. The

Cheerios jeer from their bowls and scream

as I drown them in milk.

My eyes dart to the tree through the window,

vibrating in my peripheral vision. It stops

and the clock thumbs its nose at me out of the corner

of my eye. The house hovers heavy over my shoulders

and the moving, melting world floods

my limbs with its foreboding crawl.

I try to hold the face of my chattering child

in the narrow view of

a pinhole camera

When lay down to rest

the upside down pounds on my heart,

undulates through my veins and

mocks my rebuke.

God's Word rescues me from drowning

in the serpentine rivers of my view

although I often wish to.

His grace reverses the undertow

and his kindness invites

repentance for His thoughts,

where my insight

turns to snakes

and the buoyant resilience

of the cross takes me

through another gritty day,

called good by the Lord.

My insides plunge for the exit

because they can't take

another day inside my skin

yet the King of Kings holds fast

his throne through every whipping

torrent -- Captain of the high seas

The upside down has come for me

and Jesus has answered my call

but not by turning it right-side up

He answered by turning me

inside out





outward facing


larger than I

Myself, in Him

and He in me



hand and hand

where I'm

walking this

still upside

down world

with fight

By his light

And I’m here


Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,

for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,

for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Gospel of Matthew 5:3-10

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