Tag Archives: life

Living Apart

Last semester I apologized for all the poems I had been presenting with loss in them. In choosing poems, I look for story, dualities, feeling, images, truth and relevant subject to the world we live in. If you’ve ever been in a book group you know the best discussions result when there isn’t full agreement about how delightful the book was. I don’t look for disagreement, but I do like to stir the pot, especially when making a hearty stew.

The following short poem beautifully offers a big story. The layers help pull good writing forth.

Living Apart                                                                                             Lynne Knight

 

My mother is not a person I can ask about sex.

Her body is like a building she has driven past

on the way to somewhere else, not paying

much heed. She knows the major stories,

but that’s about it. Until she fractured it last year,

she had no idea where her pelvis was.

She speaks of her insides, her plumbing.

But she is not a stupid woman,

 

so I can talk to her about need.

She knows about the spirit, having lived apart

from the body for so long. She says I mustn’t be

too greedy. She loves me, but then there is the world.

The cold place, she calls it. If I could talk to her

about sex, I could ask her if she thinks I crave

the spirit like a lover who just uses you,

takes and takes and then leaves—

 

if that’s what she means by my greed.

We all need something, she said the other day

when I visited. She was looking out at the woman

who walks up and down the street all day long

like someone who’s lost her door.

The poor soul, my mother says, and waves,

though the woman can’t see her.

I want to know if the hollow my mother feels then

 

is the same as I feel after sex, like watching

someone lose the body altogether in the distance.

But when I talk about my love, simple things

like how he fixes salmon, a little lime and butter,

cilantro, my mother looks away, as if I’m talking

of sex in disguise. So, instead I sit quiet, like spirit,

thinking if I practice living apart from the body,

my greed for hers won’t break when she’s gone.

Melissa Quits School

Melissa understands that no one really has her back and that she ultimately has to make her own decisions. She starts here by stating her truths and strengthening her voice. She already has a place where feels free. I think she’s a survivor.

Melissa Quits School                                                             Lucile Burt

 

I’m not going down into that cave anymore,

that room under everything

where they stick us freaks

surrounded by storage rooms

and one hundred years of dust

caking little windows near the ceiling.

 

We’re buried under the weight

of all those rooms above us,

regular rooms with regular kids,

buried where we won’t be a bad influence.

 

Mrs. Miller says I’ll be sorry,

but I don’t care. I can’t think

down there. It’s hard to breathe

underground.

If school’s so great for my future,

what’s Mrs. Miller doing buried here

like some sad dead bird

teaching freaks

and smelling like booze every morning?

 

I may be stupid, but I know this:

outside there’ll be light and air

and I won’t feel like I’m dying.

Outside, someone will pay when I work,

give me a coffee break when I can smoke.

No one will say “where’s your pass?”

Sandy and Tina won’t dance away from me,

sidestepping like I’m poison ivy,

and boys won’t try to pry me open.

Steve won’t be hanging on me,

wanting me

to take a couple of hits before class,

wanting me

to cut class to make love,

even though it’s really screwing

and he calls it “making love”

so I’ll do it and he can brag later.

 

I may be stupid, but I know this:

even just a little light and air

can save your life.

That shark Steve thinks he owns me,

but I know this:

when we cruise in his car

so he can show off his Chevy and me

him looking out the window all the time,

going nowhere, just cruising,

I’m there ’cause we’re moving.

I’m there alone with Tori Amos,

singing her sad true songs,

leaning my head back,

watching the streetlights come and go,

each flash lighting my face

for a minute in the dark.

 

 

Samhein

This is a strange poem to be posting as we haven’t yet gotten to the summer solstice, the longest day of our year. Samhein as you’ll see is well after summer. But, this was the poem I found when looking for something to explore, discuss, and write about healing. How do we help other’s heal and how much healing work do we have to do ourselves to be able to help another person? There is much in the greater world that is sore from today’s wounds and there are many in my small classes that need a salve as well.

Below, I include a quote and after the poem some notes are included as well. Don’t miss that the poem itself ends with some very apt words about death, relationships with mothers, and living with family.

The quote:

“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”                            Max de Pree

The poem:

Samhein                                                                                 Sylvia Bortin Patience

 

As days shorten and darkness lengthens,

we celebrate the seed under the earth,

a new year growing in winter’s womb,

the beginning and end of life

stirring in the dark.

 

The veil thins between the worlds,

those who died are welcomed home.

Rituals of water and mirrors

reflect the light of fires across the void

that separates living from dead.

Cailleach, the blue-black goddess,

begins her reign of wintry night.

 

I have placed my altar and my candles

in the western window as a guide

for my mother’s spirit journey home.

As she comes closer, I see she has lost

the trappings of her later years,

the walker and the wheelchair.

She moves lightly, a young woman,

dreaming down the beach in search of shells,

lilacs from Iowa in her hands.

Her blue eyes look far away within

where perhaps a poem even now begins.

 

I am unable to imagine

what she might say to me, or I to her.

The vision remains without a voice.

Even when we lived together,

it was hard for us to know each other.

I have no wish to interrupt her reverie.

For both of us, the poems are enough.

 

Notes:

Samhain (pronounced SAH-win) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year.

Cailleach (Gaelic pronunciation: kye-luhkh) is a divine hag, a creator deity and weather deity, and an ancestor deity.