My Life

Joe Wenderoth

Somehow it got into my room.
I found it, and it was, naturally, trapped.
It was nothing more than a frightened animal.
Since then I raised it up.
I kept it for myself, kept it in my room,
kept it for its own good.
I named the animal, My Life.
I found food for it and fed it with my bare hands.
I let it into my bed, let it breathe in my sleep.
And the animal, in my love, my constant care,
grew up to be strong, and capable of many clever tricks.
One day, quite recently,
I was running my hand over the animal’s side
and I came to understand
that it could very easily kill me.
I realized, further, that it would kill me.
This is why it exists, why I raised it.
Since then I have not known what to do.
I stopped feeding it,
only to find that its growth
has nothing to do with food.
I stopped cleaning it
and found that it cleans itself.
I stopped singing it to sleep
and found that it falls asleep faster without my song.
I don’t know what to do.
I no longer make My Life do tricks.
I leave the animal alone
and, for now, it leaves me alone, too.
I have nothing to say, nothing to do.
Between My Life and me,
a silence is coming.
Together, we will not get through this.

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5 thoughts on “My Life

  1. *****
    The speaker in the poem describes the joy in finding an “animal” (his life, himself) and taming it. However, no matter how happy he is, he seems to come to an understanding that this animal could very much kill him; meaning that pain and anxiety could quickly overcome him when he realizes death will eventually strike. There’s no way to prepare for it and there is no way you can tell it’s coming; and so the speaker tries to express this by using a metaphor; the “animal”. “Somehow it got into my room. I found it, and it was, naturally, trapped.” The speaker is explaining that the fate he must face had to be found and naturally hit him without warning. In understanding that now he has uncovered the unknown, he now has to “raise” it for himself; which generally speaks of his thoughts building to a climax. In a further point in the poem, he realizes all he is, is potentially someone put on this Earth that is only left to die. Although worded differently, it creates the same connection in mindset. I came to understand that it could very easily kill me. I realized, further, that it would kill me. (This “animal” that he called “My Life”.) Further noticing that the reason he is here to meet his ending for there is nothing else to seek is noted here. “This is why it exists, why I raised it.” He has grown up to perish among the unknown. Throughout these lines he slowly reaching his turning point, for he no longer wishes to do anything since he can’t do anything. Since he cannot regulate his own life, he as well cannot face knowing that he has done his time. However, he speaks of the realization that he must accept his fate for in one line he says “I leave the animal alone and for now, it leaves me alone, too.” All in all, the representation of his life is an animal because he feels that he is not in control anymore, of his own life. Constant anxiety pushes back and forth between lines in the poem as well as the rushing sadness through the words being spoken. It can be said that the changes in the poem were his progression in knowledge. In the beginning he is more naïve and unaware. As soon as reality hits him, he turns to a depressed state and his wisdom soon grows. He soon learns what he wishes he hadn’t and can no longer “tame” his life. Just as well as he tries to forget the constant imbalance of priorities, he tries to look for another door that can lead him out of this dilemma. For, “Between My Life and me, a silence is coming.”

    • i think that is a great why of describing “the animal”. but when i first read it i thought that the animal could be a representative of a mental illness.

  2. Wenderoth’s major project is tragedy on a small canvas. We can see here the same sort of darkness that wraps itself like a blanket around the narrator of his “Letter’s To Wendy’s”. Once again, here the narrator is doomed, and, worse yet––like all of us, if we search ourselves for a moment––he knows it; It doesn’t well.

    But mortality is not the only conundrum here. Here the animal, “My life”, forces the narrator to come to understand the essential un-freedom of his existence, of his narrative, of his life. He wants to be its master, of course. He traps it, in the beginning–but this is for naught; he is not in control. He could feed it, or not. He could sing it a song, or not. It doesn’t matter. His patronizing desire to rise it up is only the manifestation of a will to power that is just that, a will, a fantasy with no real material consequence. His “Life” will overwhelm him, no matter what he wants; all the tricks he trains his “Life” to do are empty spectacle. The real joke is on him; he is powerless to stop what will come. The silence coming is unavoidable. It will swallow him. It will swallow all of us.

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