Saturday, January 31, 2009
I created this blog and felt so deliciously sneaky that I set my status on facebook as "Karen is keeping secrets." As I knew it would, that statement teased them and generated a good deal of nosiness and speculation among my grown children and children-in-law with whom I am facebook "friends."
Because I really didn't want them to investigate, I assured them that the secret had nothing to do with them or with family. I told them this for a very good reason. I knew that, since they don't know me as a writer, they would have a hard time separating "Mom" from Karen-who-writes.
This is exactly what has happened. My son googled my name and the word secrets, or some such procedure, and found the blog. He said nothing about it until today, when I told him I had something I wanted him to read. Then he fessed up. His next statement, referring to "Beneath the Veil of Winter Born," was, "...a little hard on Granddad, weren't you?"
Just as I suspected, my family will believe that anything I write is autobiographical.
Of course, I believe that all writing is autobiographical in many ways. It shows the deepest heart of the writer, revealing parts that are not apparent to the rest of the world. Writing reveals, and poetry may distill the essence of the person most of all. Yet, as much as it reveals, it also allows one to become someone else, and therein is the rub for those who know the writer. Which person is authoring the piece? Is it the one who is opening her heart for all to see, exposing her truest self, or is it the one who is creating a new reality that has little to do with the author herself but provides a wonderous landscape in which she may wander? Maybe the answer is both.
I have no doubt that all three of my children -- bright, educated young adults -- can understand that my father did not scorn me as the father in this particular poem does his child. I just hope that when they read my work, as I am sure they will, they can set aside "Mom" and just enjoy the writing. If not, then I hope they have enough discretion not to tell me.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Your children said
you might have been confused,
maybe you were walking in your sleep,
were blinded by the snow,
you’d lost your way.
The neighbors said
you had been acting strange,
maybe you were walking off your fears,
since John’s been gone
you hadn’t been the same,
they think perhaps that
you had lost your way.
The expert said
he couldn’t speculate
why you’d be outside walking in a storm,
but he’d confirm the cause:
a frozen heart,
of having lost your way.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
So neighbors took her mother to give birth
And waited for the errant man to come
And watched the snow that piled upon the earth.
That winter night was shortest of them all,
When caul-born child was laid upon the breast
Of woman filled with sorrow and with woe
For husband gone and child aborn unblessed.
The doctor said there’s nothing for concern,
That babies born with covered heads are fine.
He skinned the child of soft, encircling womb
And cut the cord and tied it off with twine.
A child so born had once been thought a boon
To ships that sailed to lands upon the waves,
And sailors paid a fortune for the skin
That kept them from the depths of watery graves.
But when her father learned that she had borne
A veil that hid a face with dark black eyes,
As black as dirt of coal upon his hands,
He hawked onto the snow and made a sign.
“Protect me from the evil eye,” he said,
“Of babies who can steal your dreams at night
And take the sleep from out your lonesome bed
And fill your waking days with fear and fright.”
“Doc should have let her stay there in her bag
To drink that water where she learnt to swim.
He should have left her to the will o’ God
And left us to enjoy the peace o’ Him.”
Yet as a child is wont to do, she grew,
A strange and somber fairy child, they said,
And every night before she went to sleep,
She turned her mind upon their loathsome bed.
The child brought forth beneath the wintry sky,
The shortest day and evening of the year,
Born safe within a lonely veiled cocoon,
Sent mother all her joy, to father -- fear.
With passing of the years the girl grew fond
Of rambling in the hills to learn the ways
Of women who could cut a willow twig
Or blow out fire or take a wart away.
But as she hunted ginseng root for tea
To make a heart beat strong or heal a wound,
She always thought of him whose thought that day
Was that she was the twig who should be pruned.
Her stature grew in magic and in art;
She bent their use according to her will.
To those in need she gave what help she could,
But unto him who bred her -- only ill.
One day as she was digging by the stream
That ran behind the tipple for the coal,
She felt the hair arise upon her neck
And knew that nearby lurked an evil soul.
She heard his jaunty song before she saw
The man of heart much blacker than the seam;
She hid herself from him among the reeds
And willed him to the depths to meet his dream.
He felt the pull of water and of thirst
And need to wash the coal dirt from his hands,
So down he stooped there on the river’s edge
And looked through swirling water to the sands.
Beneath the water’s twist he seemed to see
A babe within a bubble all encased
That moved beyond the reach of his long arms
But strained toward him for watery embrace.
He stretched his arms to grasp the thing he saw,
Said, “Eyes play tricks on me, I know, this day;
Or clouds have come to shadow out the sun
And hide the things of sense from sight away.”
The sand beneath his feet beside the stream
Began to fall then shift and then to run,
And up from out the reeds his daughter rose,
The one whose face was hidden from the sun.
He saw that face reflected in the pool;
Her eyes there darker than the darkest coal
That stained his mind and filled his evil heart,
The waterchild that sucked at his black soul.
He turned and clawed with hands for purchase there
But pulled away the film of soft, smooth skin,
A shimmer that had covered fine dark hair
And held the heart that he had scorned within.
He fell beneath the eddies of the waves
That washed the black of coal from off his face,
And in a bubbled caul he sailed away
Cradled by the fairy child’s embrace.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
when she hung that picture
about being a cripple
What did she know of that white Maine world?
mother and retarded daughter
school to teach white children
town to love white men
What did she know about shades of brown and tan?
chicken salad lunches
ride to school on buses
swing the shining sickle
cut the ripened grain
What did she know
when she hung that picture
of the handicaps of longings
and the struggle to get home?
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Why I Don't Write Poetry
With Apologies to Poets Everywhere
Poetic turn is hidden from my sight
As unto paper this my hand I place
And try to find the words this day to write
The soul of that red wonder there with grace.
I study head so pert and feathers fine
And try to plait a net of words to hold
A creature never meant for tangled twine
Or fancy woven images so bold.
But 'fore my hands can note that selfsame tune
And fashion form from nothing on this page,
I feel the blogspot pull of Mossy Moon
To show me the true workings of a sage.
I peer at life turned art on paper set
And skulk away the challenge here unmet.
Monday, January 19, 2009
But...oh, my gosh! You writers are getting to me! What am I thinking? You are real writers. You write. Why would I do this to myself? Why would I do this to anyone?
a) You don't know me.
b) If I choose, I can never access this site again.
c) If I lose your respect, it was short-lived anyway.
d) All of the above.
Ever the cautious one, if I still choose "d" tomorrow, I'll go with All of the above.
Friday, January 16, 2009
I'm not going to spill secrets here. I'm going to keep them. As a matter of fact, this blog itself is a secret. No one knows I'm writing this. No one I know is reading it. It's my secret. My own not-to-be-shared-with-anyone-I-know secret. Something I own that I won't tell my husband who is sitting across the room, smiling sadly at me because I'm working at home again. Something I won't tell my Ph.Daughter -- the one who has a degree in English Literature from one of the nation's finest. Something I won't tell anyone who might be able to peel me open and see inside.
Keeping Secrets! What a delicious thought!