Artwork General Photography Poems and Prose Poems

Anguish: Excerpt from Visualizations for Heartbreak: Words, Photographs, and Collages by Catherine Raine

Transcript read by the author

Your anguish is a force, a separate soul that cries out for solace and remedy. A thousand words of comfort rise from the ache in my throat, but they cannot restore the beloved person who abandoned you. Into this void, my voice may drop like a stone.

A picture containing animal, food, standing, cake

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It hurts to see you cry, face in your hands, unable to sleep, eat, or even feel real. Dizzy from the shock of sudden desertion, each second refuses to pass, remains incomplete. Your injured heart has lost its rhythm and your movements seem leaden, as if masses of melted tar are dragging your arms down every time you lift a glass.

A picture containing sitting, green, table, colorful

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While your body slows to glacial time, the brain accelerates as it struggles to comprehend this alien reality that cannot be happening but is happening anyway. Like a never-ending game of tether ball, your thoughts spin faster and faster into smaller and tighter circles, shackled by panic to the iron fact of loss.

A picture containing riding, wave, water, surfing

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If I had the power to heal you, I would gather the softest banana leaves in creation and soak them thoroughly in shea butter. Then I’d wrap them round your head to cool and cradle your brain, drawing out the poison of self-punishing thoughts, soothing the pain, and smoothing the wrinkled loops of endless tormenting questions.

A close up of a green plant

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For your heart-wounds, I offer a poultice composed of clay, feathers, and ferns to press against your chest as if in prayer. The heart-poultice cannot mend the cracks, but it honors them with love. When the minerals and soft coverings touch your skin, they ease the hurt, giving you precious minutes of relief.

A painting of a person

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A picture containing table, indoor

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And for your whole body, a pool has been sunk into the cursèd room that most haunts you with memories. The pool is not very wide — the width of three ordinary bathtubs — but it is fathoms deep. The sides and bottom of the pool are made of peat-black marble, turning the water so dark that it gathers you into oblivion. When you sink into this personal well, the only things you experience are the present sensations of cool healing water, your steady breath, and the kind red beating of your heart.

(Thank you Sean McDermott for making the recording! For a physical or digital copy of Visualizations for Heartbreak, please contact Catherine Raine at

10 replies on “Anguish: Excerpt from Visualizations for Heartbreak: Words, Photographs, and Collages by Catherine Raine”

Oh Catherine, your voice is lovely and soothing. It is a balm to my heart and soul. I’m dealing with a job loss from a job that I really felt I was doing really well and learning everyday. I was told I was not a fit. This happened on Thursday – the same day as my AA birthday. It hurt. I’m searching again. Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful recording. I will listen again and again

That company lost out on a dedicated worker who loves to learn, and I’m so sorry this bad news arrived on your AA birthday. (I have the Rage recording I can send later, which seems appropriate! I’m mad at that company!). Thank you for your encouraging words, and I’m very glad that you found the recording soothing.

Oh Catherine, how was I ever so fortunate that you were born into my family. That I can call you cousin and friend. You make the world a better place. You have a soothing uplifting voice reading your own lovely words written and further expressed with your amazing artwork. You are beyond talented and you have knitted all of your gifts together to soothe the world. I think you are remarkable and awesome cuz!!


Sometime I’d like to listen to the rage recording! Thank you. I may be angry but I can curb jump at all times!!

Catherine, thanks. This is amazing. The pieces are comfortable to view. I will look at this continuously, and definitely anticipate the complete version when you release it.
I am inspired by you sharing this with me.

Denise, Domine, and Shelton, I am very grateful for your comments. They mean the world to me.

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