Thursday, April 13, 2006

Life, death, and Poetry Thursday

I've never gotten around to officially joining Poetry Thursday, but every Thursday I read the poems on other people's blogs and think of one I'd like to share.

Today I'm finishing up necessary tasks. The taxes (blech!), which I just this very moment finished (whew!). I can't do laundry because the machine is broken. Repairman has been called and is due tomorrow morning. I'm cleaning house a bit and uploading some photos for blog drafts, on the unlikely chance that I'll have an opportunity to get online while I'm gone. And soon I'll be making a list of things-to-bring and packing (for the umpteenth time this year) in order to go down to Sacramento to be with Noel for the birth of her daughter. Doctors are planning on inducing her early tomorrow morning to avoid issues with pregnancy induced hypertension, a nasty complication that has been creeping up on her all this last week.

So, yes, that's what I've been doing. On a mundane level. On an emotional level I'm working on much more challenging tasks. My dreams last night were complex. I can't remember them well except that something frightening happened that made me scream and wake myself up this morning. I've been so busy these last few months (more like last few years!) that I've put off thinking about the idea of a new person coming into my life, but that's exactly what is about to happen. Someone who is tiny and new and who will be intensely loved and important to me is about to be born. And I will have the honor of being one of the first people there to welcome her upon her arrival.

I've also been trying to put off thinking of the people I love who were once in my life and have now physically left, but I've been less successful at keeping these thoughts away. The fourth anniversary of Joshua's death is coming up next week and it had occurred to me a few weeks back that this new baby could even be born on that date, something that we'd all deal with if we had to, but obviously something we'd rather avoid. For this reason and others, I'll admit to being relieved that Mother Nature is going to be helped in the "scheduling" of this birth.

Now that the birth is eminent, both trains of thought are weaving themselves around each other in my mind. Birth and death, blessings and loss. How they are two sides of the same coin. How they hold each other in check. Added to that, spending last weekend at the ocean tickled the many memories our family share of walking the shore, building sand castles, contemplating our lives and our connections within it. All jumbled together I feel joy, awe, sadness, confusion, wonder - one after another or in an unexplainable blend.

This isn't going to end with some sort of ephiphany or wise summing up on the yin/yang of life. I haven't reached any conclusions. The thoughts are all just rolling in, rising up to the surface of awareness like a wave rises up when it reaches the shore, and then finally spills over against the sand, perhaps leaving some new thoughts above the water's reach, perhaps pulling some older thoughts back down. The only thing I can safely say I understand is that all I'm seeing and feeling are the small edges of the thing, the glimmers and clues that wash up against my consciousness, while the bulk of the mystery is down there beneath the waves, deep and unlimited, both frightening and compelling at the same time.

I don't know if it - the nature of life, the duality of experience - is really knowable. Nor do I think I really need or want to know. I guess what I really want is simply to touch it now and then. I've always felt comforted at the ocean. I feel a presence there of something, someone, so much greater than myself that my life and it's problems seem both inconsequential and compassionately understood in the same breath. I feel the aliveness of not just my body, the birds, the plant, but also the water and the cliffs and the air. I hear the breath and the blood of the planet at it's most elemental level. I feel Gaia.

At the beach I don't feel the need to be in charge. I can simply exist and know that is enough. I like to bundle up against the wind and walk along the shore and feel part of it, from the most ethereal, unprovable thought in my mind to the salt water that flows back and forth through the membranes of the cells in my body. In moments like these I experience oneness with the greater Mother in a way similar to the way a child feels in the womb of his or her mother. In the way my granddaughter now feels held in the sway and rhythm of my daughter's body for just the briefest moment longer.

So, back to poetry, which is, after all, at least for me, more useful as an emotional experience then an intellectual one. It seems the most effective poems make you feel something even if you don't, on first read, understand why.

The year we lost custody of Joshua and Noel, we drove back up the Pacific Coast on our way to drop them off twelve hours away for the school year with their mother. (Noel is my technically my stepdaughter) It was a difficult trip for all of us. I remember Noel cried nonstop for the first two plus hours of the drive. I didn't say much. It felt like if I had tried, the words would have stuck in my throat and suffocated me. Later in the afternoon we stopped for the kids to play on a beach. As we drove off again, me at the wheel, this poem came to me suddenly, complete, and desperate to be written. I pulled over to the side of the highway and asked Jeff to drive so I could write it down.

A Daughter

A moment ago
she was a girl

chasing brothers along the sand
In a blink of tomorrows
a woman will appear.

But just now

she has vanished.
All that is left,

scattered boys

bent in search of
the perfect
I hear a call - Mom!
Looking up,
a mermaid sits

on the rocks above.
Her hair wraps round

a small face,

golden seaweed

afloat on the wind.

She waves at me and smiles.

It is
Persephone’s smile.

Mom October 15, 1994


Blogger Deb R said...

The poem is beautiful.

Sending good thoughts toward Noel and the new baby!

7:16 PM  
Blogger Diana Troldahl said...

ahh Laume... my heart is comforted by your post on birth and death and birth. Spring for my family is forever entwined with the loss of people dear to us. Robynn and Beth Anne both left us in the spring. Beth after a 12-year fight with Cancer, Robynn was taken from us by her husband. They were sisters to each other in life, and both sisters of my heart.
Thanks for your lovely poem, and for your willingness to share your writing.

1:15 PM  

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