What do we say to death when it insists on arriving despite the fact that we are not ready? We still have love that needs to be given. We haven’t said all that we feel to those who need to know. It is never the right time, is it? That’s all.
(a shovel poem after Robert S. Carroll “This Much”)
I get daily emails of poetry from several sources. I don’t have time to read them all, but I look at least one every day. Yesterday when I opened the Rattle email to the poem “This Much” by Robert S. Carroll, about the death of his father, I was stopped in my tracks. I read it over several times, and then wrote this shovel poem from the ending thought “When we love, we feel it all”. I urge you to read Carroll’s poem here.
Lost among the layers of words, my needs slip through the cracks that keep opening into assaults on the ways that have always belonged to me. I don’t want to be reoriented towards a future I can’t imagine, or pushed through a portal into a world I don’t understand. A world that does not recognize me and has no relationship to the one that has always sheltered me from unwelcome change.
All those strident sentences you spit out—they mock my choices, erasing any value in what I call a good life. The scale on which you judge me makes my wishes weigh nothing. You discard everything that makes me happy.
The tasks of survival are not so easily sorted into black and white, good and evil. What seems to work for the time being is all we can attain sometimes, worth more than the promises of a future that we can’t see.
It’s impossible to know God’s plans or to understand them—despite your fancy degrees and charts, there are realms beyond the facts, beyond what you call science, that we can’t anticipate or control.
Instead you put yourself above me. But you appear in my mirror as one-dimensional, rejecting me and the grieving that belongs to me, the losses I have experienced and feel. You insist they are worthless, I am worthless. But what do you offer to me that will replace them?
You list all my beliefs and shame them, shame me, shame my culture, my family, my friends. And you call it compassion.
I am not asking for your false understanding. I do not want what you want, what you think I need.
I want to be worth something. I want to matter to someone, something. I want a world that holds out a hand and tells me I belong. Where has it gone?
look at me listen to my life make me real
Jim Feeney at Earthweal gave us quite a challenge this week: to write a poem from the point of view of someone who is a climate change denier or a climate solution denier or someone who just doesn’t care because they won’t be around when it happens. It’s not easy to put yourself sympathetically in someone else’s shoes. I chose to repeat some of the words and ideas I heard in interviews with Trump supporters, figuring no environmentalist would ever vote for Trump. I have to admit I resent the fact that the media always tells us we need to try to “understand” people who support Trump, and yet Trump supporters never have to return the favor and try to understand those of us who don’t. We are not all wealthy Ivy League educated “elites”.
And the thing is…in the end our desires are not so different. I don’t reject science and I would not talk of God, but I have spiritual beliefs too that involve feelings and ideas that can’t really be quantified. I also often feel unacknowledged, dismissed, invisible. I have lost parts of my life that will never return and cannot be replaced. We all want to matter, to belong somewhere.
Why can’t we make that somewhere a place of mutual respect that honors our interdependence with the natural world? So we have a world where everyone’s children and grandchildren have a fighting chance at survival?
In the mirror I am only a face– a fleeting facade, disembodied, always incomplete.
I recognize it, but I do not feel attached– I dislike the lines, the dark circles, the sagging jowls.
Our interactions are conditional, brief. My face is interesting in the way of all faces,
but not memorable or distinct—brown hair brown eyes behind glasses– averagely past its prime– I could be anyone.
I see the years in my hands and I celebrate them. Why is my aging face a source of shame?
Our bodies are merely ephemera—transitory, waiting to be discarded—waiting to release our spirits to the wind.
This is some more old work I never posted because I was moving. It was inspired by two prompts: The Kick-About prompt of Joseph Cornell’s “Romantic Museum”, which was part of an exhibition dedicated to portraits of women, and the dVerse prompt from Sarah asking for self-portraits. As I said to Phil when I submitted my response to the Kick-About: what woman do I know better than myself?
The hand holding a needle in Cornell’s work, above immediately attracted my attention. I wanted to do something on newspaper, but I couldn’t collage (my first choice) as my glue was packed. My needles and floss were not, however, and this also seemed appropriate to Cornell’s work.
I was pleased to find a newspaper page with a photo of hands. I drew my own, and also my face, and stitched and wrote my reflections based on the drawings. It’s not quite finished, but maybe that’s the correct response too.
linking to dVerse Open Link Night, hosted by Grace
parallel rhythms fan into a V—to lead and then to follow
opening I ride currents weaving feathers with the wind
For Frank Tassone’s #haikai challengegoose. I chose to paint snow geese. It’s not draw a bird day, but any day is appropriate for birds.
It’s been a challenge for me to get any work done that I like, both with writing and art. I decided to do some ink and brush painting for the goose. This is an unforgiving medium, but one I enjoy, and the focus required was good for me. I spent an enjoyable hour painting, ending up as always with a pile of discards, but with a few worth posting.
I am continually reminded of my drawing teacher who told us that of every 100 drawings we did, only one would be worth saving–so draw, draw, draw.
I needed herbal tea and drank peppermint chamomile lemon ginger—aromas filled the afternoon
awakened this morning my head pounded with forgotten caffeine—I had neglected to include coffee
I needed to smell the coffee pot brewing– inhale the cup–cravings satisfied– snug, reblanketed
I wrote two blanket poems yesterday–one was depressing and the other too enigmatic, to put it kindly. This poem came to me spontaneously this morning as I waited for my caffeine to brew–along with a drawing to help the time pass more quickly.
A quadrille for dVerse, where Merril has given us the word blanket
superimposed lines– pick them up, examine the landscapes beneath,
follow the intersections– the map of bodyworn years
I chose the theme for Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday prompt #192, Maps, but did not get a chance to post my response. When I pulled it out to look at it this morning it took awhile to remember my creative process.
I wanted to use a map of NYC and a self-portrait and layer them somehow. I had seen a layered piece of art that used holes cut in the top layer which I liked. The challenge was to make the holes work with the portrait underneath.
As usual, I managed to take off a few years from my face in my drawing, but otherwise I think it’s a pretty good likeness. Our faces contain many maps, but sometimes you have to look closely to see them.