my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Look on the bright side

I like this poem for I find it reassuring. When something goes awry, as with the demise of a relationship, I tend to focus on the negative and fail to remember all positive that came of it. He is saying don't be so hard on yourself. A good reminder for all of us.  

And then in Going There he find something positive in another form of disaster.
Failing and Flying
  by Jack Gilbert

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Going There
  by Jack Gilbert

Of course it was a disaster.
The unbearable, dearest secret
has always been a disaster.
The danger when we try to leave.
Going over and over afterward
what we should have done
instead of what we did.
But for those short times
we seemed to be alive. Misled,
misused, lied to and cheated,
certainly. Still, for that
little while, we visited
our possible life.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Looking back

I had to read this one more than once! I really enjoy the challenge of Jane Hirshfield's poems.... though many are well above my understanding. For me, this poem is about looking back at all those good intentions, those plans and desires that you imagined to be central to your core of being, and realizing that those things aren't so important after all. It's about not recognizing the person you used to be. And maybe having no regret in that discovery?

Dream Notebook
Jane Hirshfield 

What will become of these

my many lives,

abandoned each morning abruptly to their own fates?  

Of the fox who stopped to look up at me,

bright death stippling her muzzle,

and announced--clearly, simply--"I was hungry"?

Of the engine left half-disassembled,

the unmendable roofleaks, the waiting packed bags? 

Cloudbellies of horses drinking at sunset.

Fierce embraces remembered half a day if at all.

Even the bedside jar of minute and actual seashells

wavers and thins--

though each was lifted, chosen,

I no longer recall if it was in joy or distraction,

in foreknowledge or false belief. 

How much more elusive, these half-legible scribblings.

If souvenirs at all, they are someone else's.

As each of my memories,

it seems, is destined to be someone else's,

to belong to a woman who

looks faintly like me and whom I wish well,

as one would any stranger passed in a shop, on the street.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


My beautiful granddaughters
(I will honor Cameron with his page later)

Cadence 4 months

Kalaya 16 moths

Jaelynn 12 (Tiffiny too)

Cries of the Spirit is a very nice collection of poems by women compiled by Marilyn Sewell. I went searching in that book for more by Margaret Atwood after posting Boat, which many of you told me you particularly enjoyed. This is just the third portion of a five part poem. As a grandmother I fully understand how passionately one loves her grandchildren (and great grandchildren). I was fortunate to have both grandmothers in my life well into my thirties, and I was close to both of them. But for some reason, I never suspected my great grandmothers would have felt the same fierce connection to me. Reading poems like these help me realize the connection I feel for my "decedents" would likely have been felt by my great grandmothers too. That's nice to think about.  

Five Poems for Grandmothers (excerpt)
Margaret Atwood
How little I know
about you finally. 

The time you stood
in the nineteenth century
on Yonge Street, a thousand
miles from home, with a brown purse
and a man stole it.

Six children, five who lived
she never said anything
about those births and the one death,
her mouth closed on a pain
that could neither be told not ignored.

She used to have such a sense of fun.
Now girls, she would say
when we would tease her.
Her anger though, why
that would curl your hair,
though she never swore.
The worst thing she could say was:
Don’t be foolish.

At eighty she had two teeth pulled out
and walked the four miles home
in the noon sun, placing her feet
in her own hunched shadow.

The bibbed print aprons, the shock
of the red lace dress, the pin
I found at six in your second drawer,
made of white beads, the shape of a star.
What did we ever talk about
but food, health and the weather?

Sons branch out, but
one woman leads to another
Finally I know you
through your daughters,
my mother, her sisters,
and through myself.

Is this you, this edgy joke
I make, are these your long fingers,
your hair of an untidy bird
is this your outraged
eye, this grip
that will not give up?

The second poem, (ironically, because I did not plan it that way) is by Nikki Giovanni, whose poem I posted last week. The ending is so true....nobody ever does say what they really mean.

Nikki Giovanni

her grandmother called her from the playground
         “yes, ma’am,” said the little girl
        “i want chu to learn how to make rolls” said the old
woman proudly
but the little girl didn’t want
to learn how because she knew
even if she couldn’t say it that
that would mean when the old one died she would be less
dependent on her spirit so
the little girl said
        “i don’t want to know how to make no rolls”
with her lips poked out
and the old woman wiped her hands on
her apron saying “lord
        these children”
and neither of them ever
said what they meant
and I guess nobody ever does