I used to tell my English students that writing poetry gave the poet the opportunity to ‘hide in plain site’. For me, it is the most personal form of writing. In it, I crystallize my thoughts, intentions, and emotions and express these in a way which is strongest for me. The words I use have intense meaning for me. I write poetry when I feel that it is the best genre for me to choose to use to have the greatest sense of clarity.
The two poems which follow were written about 25 years apart. I remember giving the first poem to my mother to read. She had asked me to try to let her know how I was feeling. I had just finished the poem and so I gave it to her, hoping that she would understand what I was feeling about myself and my life. When she was finished, she was silent for several minutes. I still remember her saying to me, “Did we do that to you?” She had understood what I had felt as I wrote the poem. My writing that poem and choosing to share it with her cleared away so much ‘stuff’ that had encumbered our relationship. Sharing it with her was the beginning of the transformation of our relationship.
The second poem was written at a very different time in my life. Writing it made plain the changes which I was experiencing (and which I continue to experience) in my relationship with myself and my world. I know that my mother, if she could have read it, would have celebrated my transformation.
They are both profoundly personal. I hope that they might speak to you.
She always wanted to soar,
to fly unfettered by conventions,
to step out and experience the freedom of her spirit.
She wanted to shout, to sing, to laugh –
to skip through the days of her life.
She wanted the world to hear the music of her soul
and touch her universal one-ness.
She would sing her silent song.
It was all of her –
Her talisman and her mantra.
She carried it within herself everywhere.
It was her shield and buckler, her solace and peace.
She took it to her family
but her sister said she was selfish
and her parents wondered where they had gone wrong.
She took it to school
but her teachers asked, “Why can’t you be like Lynette?”
And her friends were deaf.
And she was bound in the gray sameness –
gray walls, gray teachers,
bells and lines,
and desks nailed to the floor.
And she cried and kicked and screamed
against the shroud of blackness that enveloped her,
against the non-green gouache that smothered her.
No one understood –
they could not see
they refused to hear.
And life was gray.
So she learned to fit in –
to march in step single file, Indian style –
to answer the bells, sit up straight, lock up her soul.
And slowly her song was silenced,
Replaced by her unvoiced plea –
“Love me. Accept me. Make me feel worthy.”
And those things inside her
that had clamoured to be heard –
to be said
no longer demanded it.
And the words were trite
and the melody was flat
and life was gray.
SIGHT AND SOUND
of energy and emotion
expand in me
moving through my confusion.
A palette of iridescent hues
nourishes my soul
from endless depths
to unimagined heights.
this mundane world
toward the vital essence
of eternal, limitless consciousness,
I seek my irrevocable truth.
My journey forward
carried on waves of
Sight and Sound.