One morning, my mind woke up
but my body did not go anywhere.
I summoned my extremities, but
they remained slack against
the mattress. It soon wore off,
like drunkenness. Sleep paralysis,
science explains. Muscle lagging
behind consciousness a bit
more than usual. In folklore’s
jurisdiction, this is known as
a pressing ghost, kanashibari.
The condition of being fastened
with unseen metal, of being held
down by shadow. Don’t get up,
the pressing ghost murmurs above us,
and we don’t. Eventually, they release
us, wheel away into the air like bats.
Your hesitation before unlatching
your guitar, the way you cringe before
bringing your fingers to its strings
if anyone else is with you. Each fear
dripping within you, as water droplets
form at the end of icicles and fall.
This, too, is a pressing ghost. You will
look stupid, one says. Or You can
never finish this. I’ll show you mine:
They will think you are selfish.
The things you make are unremarkable.
How to deal with the spirits of paralysis.
Let us form a strategy. When doubt
presses itself across my chest,
issuing its fine mist of deprecation,
selfishhhh, dullnessss, I will not move
because I cannot, but I will look at it
and answer with this thought:
Even so, I keep creating, I am capable.
I will calmly allow its heaviness
and stand when it goes. It will.