by Celia Szelwach

Suffering sadness
sinks me
to the blackest depths
Demons devour dangerously
I shudder
Darkness envelops me

Shrieking, squirming...
I cast away hope
My insides churn
Gripping my sanity
I yearn to escape

But as I look around me
I see only fear
bitter tears
Their eyes see
Dreams lost
to an underworld
only in their own self-doubt

I'm held captive
These self-doubting demons
wrap their tentacles around me
Their hug
like death's cold grip upon my heart

Further still
I plunge
into this uncertain chasm
among these lost souls
How did I get here?
Can I save myself?
I close my eyes
An inferno of self ridicule eclipses my spirit

Reaching, retching...
I struggle through bleak depths inhaling
bitter memories
And the broken lives
of those who traveled here before

I begin to pray
Warmth breaks through darkness
Light emerges
I search for the steps
that lead upwards
The demons reach for me
But their power exists
no more

I don't look back
Instead I reach
for those souls
who choose to travel with me
Together we march
climbing each step
more hopefully
knowing salvation lies ahead

Celia Szelwach is an Army veteran and holds a Doctorate of Business Administration. She’s an Adjunct Professor at Montreat College and loves writing poetry and articles on travel, business, and academic themes.

About Judgment—This poem was inspired by a photo of “The Last Judgment” mosaic in the cupola of the Baptistery, Florence.