the poetry that matters

Karen Bannister

Karen Bannister lives in British Columbia. Her writing has been featured in Hip Mama and online at bentlily.com. She holds a Masters in Comparative Literature.



liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold"[) is the quality of ambiguity

disorientation that occurs in the middle stage

"stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way.



Status: Married

Education: high.


Here are the incidental details

The more or less mundane


The syllables like bones holding meaning erect.

And yet meaningless sounds chime in the facts.


Presenting Problem.


The problem is in the presenting. The presenting is the problem is the way in which the problem is presented. Present. Check.


This 28 year-old woman was referred by her PHN & GP for concerns re: mood and anxiety.


There is a man.

Dark, grey and lithe.


And he lives in the corner of my bedroom. If I blink too hard, for too long, I miss him.

I miss you.

Blink my eyes - open these tired wired eyes - open like a carnival ride spun out of control. Black top of the Trans-Canada and my body hanging over the edge.


at 3 mos p.p. having intrusive images involving harm to the baby.


Step close to the edge and I can see your body tumbling over. The plush of your blue sleeper clinging to the taut surface of my worn skin. Like dryer flint. And then I push you over. There is no sound.







She is a 28-year old who is 6 months postpartum who lives with her husband.


December 12.


Axis 1 Major Depressive Disorder in partial remission

Generalized Anxiety Disorder


We discussed with her the possibility of an underlying bipolar diaphysis

and her genetic backup given the strong family history ….


There is a man. His body pressed close  - shadow in the corner - shatters the matter of my mind. His blood is my blood and the threat of madness is all mixed in. We are all mixed up. He and I. I and he. We are all the same.




He stands at the back, far away, tilted towards the end of the pew and in this blithe mix of charged presence he swings his smile to the hushed whispers of the can’t-believers. But to see his brother die.

To not mark this day.

To not acknowledge the blight…

Black. Sheep.


Yes, sir.

Yes, sir.


And so I lay me down to sleep. And I tell you, Lord, I tell you: Whisper a prayer into his heart for me, as my body aches for his tiny touch.


If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.


Cause mixed into the morbidity is the hope, Yes, it is hope, to acquiesce to the final release. To protect his body from the terrifying fall. From the man in the room. From his toes, oh so like mine, in the pew.


Major depressive disorder, or as it is often called, “major

depression,” is characterized by

the presence of one or more

depressive episodes


One. Or. More.


40mg a day. One. Or. More.


Onset. When did it all begin? Can you take me back to the beginning? To your beginning? When did you take shape, take root? When did you lay down and form these roots? These branches? Where did the branches come from? When did you start branching? Splinter. The wood is splintering? When did you start to fracture? Fall apart? When did you begin to fall apart?


You never know with women like you.

Like you, you never know. Here today. Gone tomorrow.


When did this first manifest?


Presenting Symptoms.

The symptoms are presenting. Manifesting. Growing bigger, bolder, older. Ideation and the plan is in the idea, the idea is the plan and everything else falls into place. But I couldn’t, didn’t. I couldn’t leave you. I didn’t leave you. I will never leave you.


This 28 29 30 31 32 33 year-old woman.


"stand at the threshold"

between their previous way of structuring their identity,


or community,

and a new way.









And the Words Fell Away


Twisting text into tiny threads of imprecise, superfluous. Nothing but empty syllables


And the words fell away


Tongue flusters licks and repeats as the body sweats…beats body lust


And the words fell away


Ground opens threatens in small precise gashes of periods and echoes, dashes of songs


And the words fell away


Your body leaving, mind emptying song soul dying, laughter replaces the thick soup of ligaments and sutured curly q’s


And the words fell away.




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                                                                                                        July 16, 2013