Poem, Therapy, Mental Health, Sadhaka, B.W Powe, York University, Decoding Dust, Self-Discovery, Journey

A Therapeutic Journey

Sadhaka is a poem by Canadian poet and York University Associate Professor, B.W. Powe. It was published in his 2016 book, Decoding Dust. Through Sadhaka’s verses, Powe guides us on a journey that some might call a path of self-discovery, spiritual growth, or, for many, could symbolize the processes that could unfold through psychotherapy and mental health healing. 

The poem’s first verses could represent the confusion, the pain, the anger, the feelings of helplessness associated with mental distress. However, the last line in this stanza may represent the initial call for help “I wrote a letter to you”. 

I was in prison
unjustly jailed (I thought)
I asked for my freedom
The jailer refused
What was my crime I asked
Everything he said
Confused and angry
I wrote a letter to you

Then the process evolves, and therapeutic work begins. Little by little, the person uses the tools and materials they have been given to bring light to the realm of shadows and confusion.

I received a lamp
a drawing made of lines and circles
a book with empty pages –some pencils-
a shawl and a cup for rain

these and the little food I was given
through the slot in the steel door


I read into the dark
reflected on the drawing
I wrote our shapes like letters
in the morning in your blank book


I prayed and kept warm by the lamp
and in the shawl then I fasted
drinking only from the small cup
filled with water that seeped into my cell

By day I became calm and happy
By night I drew and read more
Soon I saw between your lines
an open space and a silence

I saw the lines
become a shape like a map

Your map took me
to the crack in the floor
I scratched and dug there
By day I prayed and read
By night I learned how to dig
my way forward
slowly displacing the dirt
out the small barred window

Finally, the person is clear, strong, and ready to leave therapy. But that doesn’t come without uncertainty, as the last two verses state “what would I do now with a soul”. 

When I came at last into
the sudden air the wind
the breath beyond the lines
the breathing behind the map
I knew the story lived in my hands
I stood up
What would I do now
with a soul

Image Credits:
Feature Image: Geralt, On Pixabay. Creative Commons.