The Strange Creature, Poetry
For many years, the great majority of poetry was a strange creature to me. Some of it I couldn’t understand at all. I had no idea how to read it, though I was intrigued. I knew I would love it if I could figure it out. Except for the likes of Shel Silverstein. That I could understand. That spoke to the center of this little girl’s heart. Also, I was a master at limericks. I could crank those puppies out like nobody’s business! My young brain loved the structure, and the rhyming. The ridiculous little snippets of story.
In my twenties I was finally released out of my fear of not being able to understand great works of literature. That covered a whole realm of poetry as well. I began to dabble. Nothing serious. A dash of Robert Frost, a pinch of Shakespeare.
And then I discovered Mary Oliver. To start, her words made their way straight past my brain into the depths of my heart. And there, they gave me comfort and kindness. This woman had seen some things and yet even as sadness and darkness flowed up out of her, she somehow transformed it into beauty before she set in onto a page. I was in the depths of my own life at that time and her words became a companion to me.
Opening A Floodgate
One day, my youngest son, Gus, was just a little boy and I passed by his room. At that time my life felt like it was crumbling into utter chaos. He was on his knees on the floor playing with a shriveling red balloon. It felt so visceral to me. The way he was folded up struck me and a switch flipped in my brain. What I saw was a small breathing Z. The next thing that happened was a fully formed poem leapt out of me. It was short and beautiful, and perfect. This was no limerick, no rhyming jokey snippet. This was a legitimate poem, and I was completely astonished.
This moment opened a floodgate where poetry poured out of me for the next few years. It was absolutely effortless. I could be moving through my day and some beautiful or terrible facet of a thing would strike my heart and brain at the same moment and out would roll a poem. There was a good while there where I was positively prolific!
The more I wrote, the more I felt. The spigot was wide open and never-ending amounts of desperation and grief rolled out of me. Like my good teacher and companion, Mary Oliver, somehow between the rising up in me, and the placing upon a page, the words took on a beauty that never ceased to amaze me. Through the darkest depths of that journey, those poems were little candles, giving off warmth and light.
At some point near the end of my divorce, I was clearing out and organizing files. I had poems willy nilly everywhere and they needed a home where they could all tuck in and rest together. I created a file called Seven Year Silence.
Me And Maya Angelou
Shortly before this, I had heard an interview with Maya Angelou. She was talking about a traumatic event that she had experienced as a small child. As the consequences of that situation flowed forward, she had been required to testify against a man. After his release from prison, the man had been murdered and Maya’s child brain had her convinced it was her voice that had caused his death. She stopped speaking for many years.
As I was compiling my poetry file, I thought of the subject matter and realized it would be many years before I would be able to share any of it. If at all. There was going to be a period of silence. Possibly, like Maya’s five years of silence, it would be many years for me as well. For whatever reason, I chose seven. Seven Year Silence.
A Light Goes On
I was settling at my desk this morning, preparing for my writing everyday routine. As I grounded my feet onto the floor, and sent curiosity up through the crown of my head, I asked my daily question: What does my soul want to say today? What came back to me was that image of Gus folded up into a little Z, playing on the floor of his bedroom. I found the poem in a thick file in the back of my filing cabinet, Seven Year Silence.
A light went on inside of me. It’s time for the silence to end. All those poems that came to me as gifts through that desperate and difficult time in my life, have grown little wings during their time of rest and healing. They are ready to start making their way into the world. Into the hearts of others who may be in the depths of their own grief or despair. Candles of warmth and light to hopefully guide other broken souls into a harbor of kindness and rest.
My divorce was final in January 2015. Seven years have passed. I think it’s time to release that flow onto the pages of a book and into the hearts of those who might find some comfort and kindness there. Stay tuned~
If you’ve had grief or find yourself in darkness, or if you need beauty in your life for warmth or kindness or rest, let’s be friends~