Thursday, May 31, 2007

Post-Mo Contemplation: Encountering Poetry Alone vs. in Partnership

I've not been in this world of poetry reflection. I'm aware of it. Living as presently as possible with God and my good friend Mo the past month has felt enough of a kind of prayerful stance observing and taking in the poetic. (In scripture, in nature, in humanity, in daily encounters with dirt and water and sun.)

But living with this woman for 27 days is different than living by myself. There has been a shift in my interior life. I know this, as I fumble with words and expression, and approach my computer shyly, just four days the other side of her departure. It takes a fair amount of courage to wake and walk toward my laptop and write. Write for myself. As myself, as the Divine within me wanting to break out.

While I've not strayed from a prayerful life this past month, (my goodness, NO! Mo and I were keen to meet and pray daily - in the morning, before all meals, after meals, getting in the car, leaving people and new places, before resting our heads at night.)

No, I wouldn't say that my spiritual life departed during my guest's tenure in my home.

But: I would say that perhaps a part of me did fade. The self-that-loves-solitude sort of wormed its way into the plaster cracks in my home, and took a rest. And encountering todays' poem, I'm aware of wanting that soulful, resting-in-the-recesses-Melissa spirit BACK. I want her here, with me, behind my eyes, still, but taking notes. I want her near to my lips, silent, but pressing into my tongue to form words. I want her dusted off, to emerge clean, shiny, and confident as she encounters today's Writer's Almanac and sits to write from it, about it, for it.


It's a different stance, this living alone and being a contemplative. I'm not so sure that it's possible in full-time, live-in partnership.

And this makes me sort of wonder, "What happens when I get married? Will this part of myself that I so love - and so loves God - and that I believe makes my life sort of mean something and worthwhile, will she disappear when I become a wife and full-time partner?"

Ohlala! Something to simply hold and consider, eh? Perhaps pray more about....


To today's poem: Kumin's "In the Park" reveals to me this kind of encounter with death -- a death of our poetic, solitude-selves, as they await rebirth. ?!*&%$!?

I love her play with this Buddhist notion of reincarnation/ (resurrection) alongside the grizzly bear attack, and woven into this Old Testament God and Nature, Heaven and Hell speak. Oh! And let's not forget grammar! This poem has so much going on it. It's so rich, rich, rich!

And it makes me happy, oh so happy, as I feel it all call to that spirit that's working to dislodge itself from the plaster and lathe of my being.



Poem: "In the Park" by Maxine Kumin, from Nurture. © Viking Penguin, 1989. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

In the Park

You have forty-nine days between
death and rebirth if you're a Buddhist.
Even the smallest soul could swim
the English Channel in that time
or climb, like a ten-month-old child,
every step of the Washington Monument
to travel across, up, down, over or through
–you won't know till you get there which to do.

He laid on me for a few seconds
said Roscoe Black, who lived to tell
about his skirmish with a grizzly bear
in Glacier Park. He laid on me not doing anything. I could feel his heart
beating against my heart.
Never mind lie and lay, the whole world
confuses them. For Roscoe Black you might say
all forty-nine days flew by.

I was raised on the Old Testament.
In it God talks to Moses, Noah,
Samuel, and they answer.
People confer with angels. Certain
animals converse with humans.
It's a simple world, full of crossovers.
Heaven's an airy Somewhere, and God
has a nasty temper when provoked,
but if there is a Hell, little is made of it.
No longtailed Devil, no eternal fire,

and no choosing what to come back as.
When the grizzly bear appears, he lies/lays down
on atheist and zealot. In the pitch-dark
each of us waits for him in Glacier Park.

No comments: