“You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.” –Isadora Duncan
presence, breath, the mystery of the body– here and now, never once upon a time– wild eternity
full of what is—translating and transforming each step through the labyrinth that is you– synchronal, alive
This is a Kick-About prompt (the quote from Isadora Duncan) that I never posted. I had an idea to do collage illustrations, but the photos of Isadora dancing made me want to try to capture them in gestural drawings.
I haven’t used pastels in a long time, but I can see why Degas chose them so often to render his dancers. The body becomes transformed by dance, lighter and more transparent. Otherworldly.
For NaPoWriMo, and also linking to the dVerse prompt from Grace, The Body & Poetry.
We remain ourselves, enigmatic– a paired paradox of who we are–sisters bound by blood and expectation.
Our portrait is a puzzle to which we hold the pieces– together we can complete it—but only if we remain ourselves, enigmatic.
We are both similar and neither without being either identical or opposite– a paired paradox.
We hold the mirror up lightly, confronted by our artificial reflections, the complex and divergent shades of who we are—sisters.
But to you we reveal nothing– only these parallel arrangements– the outlines of our surface disguises, bound by blood and expectation.
I wrote this cascade for The Ekphrastic Review challenge, Theodore Chasseriau’s painting The Two Sisters. I did not think it would be published, and it wasn’t.
I have brothers and no sister, but I have two daughters. They have their own special and complex world, both for and against what exists outside their relationship. I felt that strongly in Chasseriau’s painting. For my own exploration of the painting, I drew first with neocolors and then dipped them in paint to emphasize some of the color and lines. I haven’t been doing much drawing in the past year, so it feels good to just fool around with it and see what happens.
You can see the painting and published responses here.
Tell me, child of the skylands, how to balance on the glittering surface of time—
awakening the stillness, transforming the silence into answered prayer.
The snow leopard is found only in the mountains of Central Asia. Expanding populations in this harsh habitat compete for the same food sources. Although they are one of the least aggressive big cats, snow leopards kill livestock and are trapped in retaliation. They are also killed by poachers for their pelts and bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Only 5000-7000 remain in the wild.
Traditional cultures of their habitats consider the snow leopard to be a shapeshifter, a mountain spirit that serves as a guide between worlds. In Tibet they are sacred, existing as vessels to remove the sins of past lives. Anyone who kills one of these creatures is forced to take on the burden of those sins as their own.
They have huge paws and tails, which help them to balance on the snow in the rugged terrain of the mountains.
For earthweal, where Sherry has asked us to consider the earth’s dwindling populations of big cats.
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