Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mr. Fear by Lawrence Raab

Mr. Fear, one of the few people that anyone in the world could describe to you. He is the darkness in a room at night, the sting of a bee, the pain of losing a loved one. He is the monster hiding behind our very worst dreams. As Raab says, “He follows us, he keeps track. Each day his lists are longer.” Raab is saying that Mr. Fear is keeping tabs every day of each new thing we begin to fear, whatever it may be, and then later letting it find its way into our dreams.

“Mr. Fear, we say in our dreams what do you have for me tonight?” I feel like everyone has asked themselves this question, in fact, this may even be one of our fears, waiting to see what new things we will soon come to be frightened of while we are supposed to be dreaming peacefully. But Mr. Fear is a devious one, with his “black sack of troubles.” He knows exactly what to use on each individual, he caters to each unique person’s "needs".

But that is his job, is it not? Raab seems to wonder how exactly Mr. Fear feels about his occupation. “Maybe he smiles when he finds the right one. Maybe he’s sorry.” We will probably never know, but it is an interesting thought: at first I pictured Mr. Fear as a menacing monster, cackling as he smugly found each new terror to bestow upon his helpless victims. But Raab makes me wonder if he is not some poor, tortured creature, a self-loathing and miserable beast, who despises his endless task.

Despite how Mr. Fear feels about his job, though, the chore is still followed through. “Tell me, Mr. Fear, what must I carry away from your dream. Make it small, please let it fit in my pocket, let it fall through the hole in my pocket.” For some reason this line gives me a deep-felt emotion. Maybe because this is something I have hoped for before: that I could take something bad that happened or was thought, and then somehow forget about it, let it be lost from living memory and never found again.

Raab seems to be referring specifically to dreams, though. And who can blame him? Who hasn’t had a dream that they wish they could forget? That was so filled with terrible thoughts and feelings that even thinking about it after it had passed was overwhelming? I have to say that there are some dreams that still provide a twinge of fear if I dare to dwell on them for too long, those memorable and disturbingly fear-filled dreams from who knows how long ago, that I had thought, even hoped, I had forgotten. It seems that all Raab wants is to quietly dream of the good things he has experienced, even if they are small, like a purse of crickets from a field and a small brown bat. Better to be given the simple, happy moments than a horrific nightmare. I certainly would not blame anyone for having this want.

This whole poem was one that I thought was easy to relate to. It described certain feelings that I myself have had before, if not in the exact words that I would use. I have wondered why the same fears continue to torment me, why some of them haunt my dreams, why some of the dreams are forgotten. Personifying the distributor of these fears gives me a whole new perspective on the process. Whether or not he enjoys it, Mr. Fear pulls out the most perfectly terrifying thing from his sack and gives it to us, sometimes we lose it, sometimes it stays with us for a very long time. Sometimes we wish that we could dream of the good things in our lives instead of being pursued by fear, and sometimes, oh those surprising and happy times, we get what we wish for.

1 comment:

  1. "Personifying the distributor of these fears gives me a whole new perspective on the process." Me too! That's what I liked about this poem. I feel like somebody else I can take--if it was just me/my fears, not so much.