“The central fact of my life has been the existence of words and the possibility of weaving those words into poetry.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, This Craft of Verse
This poem came to me a few words at a time, the rough opening lines a few weeks ago, and then they took shape as I drove Brett to school on Monday. The rest came over the past few days. Tuesday night I could not sleep until I committed the middle to paper, and I’m glad that I did as too often I say to myself, I will remember in the morning, and I never do.
It’s still a bit rough, but I think that I’m almost there.
Late prayer for my daughter, heavy now with child
your father brought me lilacs
pale purple blossoms
to quell my anger.
you sat so still,
holding your sister,
mere weeks from the womb.
Your Easter dress—
covered with pink rosebuds,
the picture I took,
lost somewhere to time.
you wait for your own girl child,
counting down the days,
a mere wisp on your lips
where happiness untroubled once dwelled.
Memories of other Aprils
reminders of spring’s inconstancy.
both heaven and hell in my heart
like a tea cup full of fragrant blooms.
“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.” ~ Norton Juster
Thursday afternoon. Passing storm, temperatures are dropping, but it’s quite humid.
No one is home except the dogs and me. Quite quiet.
Such a discombobulating day. Corey worked until 7 this morning, came home and slept a few hours, then had to be at school at 1 this afternoon. He came home around 3, changed clothes, and went back to work until 11 tonight.
He’s exhausted, and I’m tired just because I can’t figure out my nights from my days.
The guy across the street still hasn’t finished the work on Corey’s truck, which means that we’re down to one vehicle, and it’s getting harder to keep up with everyone’s schedules.
Last night I had two very different dreams. In the first, I ran into a very old friend of mine, and I found out that he was dying. I met his son for the first time, and he said that he had heard about me. I asked the old friend if he had kept any of the things that I had given him, and he said that he had kept almost all of them.
We spent time going through his things, and he told me that his wife had left him for another woman, and I was surprised to learn that the other woman was a friend of mine who had never mentioned the relationship with the wife. It was a very bittersweet dream. Seeing him again even in dreams makes me very sad that he is no longer in my life.
In the other dream, I was taken hostage in a grocery store. The bad people had curved knives, and one of the women had bright red hair. She was the most savage of the group. Somehow, I made it from the store to the parking lot, but one of the bad guys was in the parking lot, and he killed an older couple right in front of me.
Then somehow a Charles Manson kind of character appeared. I realized that I had to pretend to agree with him to survive. Then, thankfully, I woke up.
“This has the strong clench of the madman, this is gripping the ledge of unreason, before plunging howling into the abyss.” ~ Derek Walcott, from“The Fist”
Friday afternoon. Very bright and sunny, painfully so.
So much for posting yesterday. In the middle of writing Eamonn came home and turned on a documentary about WWII, and away flew my thoughts. Then I had promised Brett that I would look at a paper that he had due for a class today. My little sojourn into writing for and about myself completely vanished.
I ended up going to sleep about 3:45 this morning, only to get up at 8 a.m. to have a final look at the paper and then transport to school. On the way there, a vicious migraine surfaced in my eye just as the morning sun pierced the windshield of the car. It was so bright that I thought the crack in the glass would deepen from the intensity.
I lie. It just seemed that way. Back home, meds, cold eye pillow, and sleep. That is until my mother called only to ask if I wasn’t feeling well. Migraine, I said. She continued to talk. Have I mentioned that I must turn the volume down to 1 on my phone when talking to my mother? Well, I must, and I did, and then I hung up and immediately passed out again only to be awoken by . . . my mother, who wanted to know if I still didn’t feel well, and when was I going to get the Botox shots, and why hadn’t they happened yet, and was I still drinking caffeine . . .
Pain. Great pain.
“ . . . perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us.” ~ Evelyn Waugh, from Brideshead Revisited
I thought that I’d try to share the bright sky with you through my choice of images, a reflection of what I saw this morning and what is still streaming through the window.
So here I am again, attempting to construct a post that is somewhat readable. I’m trying to make my cup of coffee last as we are almost out of coffee, and I fear that there will be none of this caffeinated elixir on which I depend for morning relief when I wake up tomorrow. (Don’t tell my mother.)
Eamonn came home last night with a broken finger (details not to be provided as he would not appreciate it). I had thought that I had tongue depressors in my stash of medical supplies, but they have disappeared, so I had to make do with chopsticks for splints until he could go to the doctor today. Turns out he has a ruptured tendon. No wonder he couldn’t feel anything when I tried to realign his finger.
So my plans for working on the computer last night were foiled, another reason I never finished my post. After applying first aid, I contented myself with watching “Project Runway.” Oh, don’t be that way. I love the madness of it, and for some reason, it makes me think that I can sew, which I can’t.
“Obscure things tend towards clarity, bodies dissolve themselves in a weightless flow of colors: these then into music. To vanish is thus the supreme fate of all fates.” ~ Eugenio Montale, from “Bring me the Sunflower” (trans. by Margaret Brose)
So what else is new in my little world? I won the Lotto? I was offered the job of my dreams? I awoke in a new house that needed no repairs? My bill basket suddenly emptied itself?
No, wait. That’s just my delusions again. Hate it when that happens.
As I was lying in bed earlier, I actually thought about what I would say, but of course, I have long since forgotten that thread. I think that it was something about life, good and evil, ya da ya da ya da . . .
No, really. It was profound. Seriously and absolutely profound, or at least that’s how it seemed in my dream/wake state. I’m certain that it had something to do with the latest Kardashian circus, er, wedding, as you are all well aware of my abiding respect for people who are famous because they are famous.
I mean think about it: We’re protesting the Wall Street whore-mongers who take millions in bonuses each year without a thought about the inequities inherent in the system, but no one says a word about a celebrity(?) wedding that costs more than a school district’s annual budget. What does that say about us as a society? That we are seriously warped?
Yep. That would be it.
“I am as far as the sleep of rivers that stains the deepest sky between clouds, you are as far as invention, and I am as far as memory.” ~ Susan Stewart, from “Yellow Stars and Ice”
Admittedly, so far this post has been little more than fodder. Perhaps it’s the really screwed up sleep schedule, and perhaps it’s the migraine. Perhaps it’s eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch for dinner. I have no answers, but in an attempt to redeem myself, I will share the following:
A half a century later,
and I have borne four children and buried one
I have lost pieces of myself that I can never reclaim
I am incapable of letting go of the past
When I look in the mirror, I do not recognize the person looking back at me
I doubt my own worthiness as a human being
My dreams are slowly fading
The repetition of my days is slowly inuring me to possibilities
Instead of becoming more secure as the years have passed, my insecurities have grown exponentially
I fear that I will never see Ireland
I wonder where the words have gone
These things I believe:
Our society has forgotten how to feel, truly and deeply feel.
We exist from one byte to the next, adding to our collection of data, but failing to nourish our souls.
Ours is no longer a representational government.
How a country treats it children directly reflects how it values it future.
A flat tax would completely level the playing field.
We have abandoned our veterans, our poor, and our elderly.
The quality of education continues to decline, and no one in power seems to recognize what this means.
We communicate more but understand less.
Global warming is not a theory.
Paper before pixels.
More later. Peace.
Music by Phil Collins, “I Wish it Would Rain” (original video featuring Eric Clapton, watch the whole thing if you have time), for Diana, who also embraces the rain
Today I planted the sand cherry with red leaves—
and hope that I can go on digging in this yard,
pruning the grape vine, twisting the silver lace
on its trellis, the one that bloomed
just before the frost flowered over all the garden.
Next spring I will plant more zinnias, marigolds,
straw flowers, pearly everlasting, and bleeding heart.
I plant that for you, old love, old friend,
and lilacs for remembering. The lily-of-the-valley
with cream-colored bells, bent over slightly, bowing
to the inevitable, flowers for a few days, a week.
Now its broad blade leaves are streaked with brown
and the stem dried to a pale hair.
In place of the silent bells, red berries
like rose hips blaze close to the ground.
It is important for me to be down on my knees,
my fingers sifting the black earth,
making those things grow which will grow.
Sometimes I save a weed if its leaves
are spread fern-like, hand-like,
or if it grows with a certain impertinence.
I let the goldenrod stay and the wild asters.
I save the violets in spring. People who kill violets
will do anything.