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Posts Tagged ‘New Year’s’

This is the week we’re all thinking about new beginnings, of course, with 2012 just days away. I haven’t made any resolutions except for committing, I suppose, to greeting my fortieth birthday in August with a hospitable attitude.

When writing the “Eve” section of A Thousand Vessels, I of course explored all sorts of geneses. I imagined a suburban business park as a new, wild land; identified with Eve’s first experiences with marital discord and birth; and considered my own new beginnings in marriage and motherhood.

In “My Daughter’s Hands,” I recount a moment when I began to realize that my daughter was a separate entity ready to explore her own Eden of discovery without me. As I’m sure many parents will agree, these moments are bittersweet: we must allow our own “creations” to make their own choices, good or bad, with the beautiful freedom God affords.

My Daughter’s Hands

When did you hatch these pink birds
that alight on everything in the house?
They land on power cords and houseplants,
perch between the window blinds.

At communion, I hold you on my lap
as I take a cup from the silver tray.
Every muscle in your body strains.
You want nothing more in this world,
love nothing as you love this purple vial.
Color swims there. Light bounces.
You whimper, stretch and shriek.

People turn. Yet I know the moment I say no
your world will begin to go wrong.
You will learn that most bright things
are never meant to be touched
and have purposes other than your joy.
You will learn the tension in my neck
as I shake my head to the beautiful movements
of your flesh. You will swim against
the current of my voice jutted with stone eyes.
And eventually, even when we embrace,
a curtain will fall between us
like the thinnest, coldest silk.

So child, take the cup and let it splash;
suck the sweet plastic and grin.
May your saliva roll down your chin and neck
like jewels, sparkle on your fingers
that have just this brief time
to fly over the world.

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I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not against resolutions; I just don’t usually make them in December. Forever a student and a teacher, I think in terms of the school year, setting goals in the late summer and diving in to the new me on the day Lydia’s bus pulls up.

One New Year’s tradition I do have, however, is writing in my journal for an hour or two on New Year’s Eve, reflecting on the past year. The tradition started in 2005, when I was so thankful to God that I had made it through that tough year that I wrote pages and pages of grateful reflections. But I am not a journal person: this is the one day I endeavor to crack the notebook.

Reflecting on my life shall come later tonight. Now I want to think about how my poetry is going to look in 2010.

On a practical level, I have already started sending poems to my friend Marci at the end of each week. She sends them, too, and the “pressure,” however so small, to have something done and somewhat readable helps me focus. Once I subtract weeks for winter break, spring break, and our annual three-week vacation, we’re looking at 46 weeks. That’s a lot of poetry–almost a whole collection’s worth. I’m excited to think about all these poems in utero, waiting to be born in 2010.

On the less practical, and much more important level, I want to be changed by poetry this year. Once I asked a former professor of mine about the whole point of it all. We are living in a culture that does not read poetry all that much. More and more poets are graduating with MFAs, and we’re all competing with each other to get books published that mostly other poets will read. Why do we do this? Or more importantly, why should we do this?

Her response: “I am not so idealistic these days to think that poetry can change the world. But I do believe the process of writing it can transform the poet.”

In this blog, I’ve been writing about the relationship between poetry and faith. I believe the Holy Spirit can work through artists to speak to other people. But this year I want to listen to the Spirit’s voice as I write. Where does my imagination travel as I begin to write? What do I envision, and why? Why do I return to the same images again and again (stars, wind, insects)? What are these poems trying to tell me about myself, about the world, about God?

If I listen well, I won’t get an answer. I’ll get caught even deeper in the mystery.

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As we near the end of the year, it hardly seems original to talk about how fast time passes. A year, a decade, my entire adult life–they have all fluttered into some mysterious storehouse of synapses in my brain. Most events and memories lie dormant until some trigger–a picture, a song, a smell–brings them into bud again.

Sometimes I feel time passing so quickly I almost experience a sort of breathless panic. 2010 seems so hard-edged and space-age, so beyond the scope of anything I imagined when I was asked as a fourth-grader, back in 1981, to write an essay describing what I would be doing in the year 2000. (I said I would be a single woman living in the mountains and raising Siberian huskies. Ironic, given my aversion to large dogs. And the fact that I’ve been married for 16 years. And live in Illinois.)

We have no control over the future, of course, but we can write poetry. Poetry can do the hard work of preserving the moments that make up our lives. And I believe the Holy Spirit has used poetry, both others’ and my own, to transform me as I reflect upon the rushing past.

This beautiful poem found in Scintilla, a magazine out of Wales, captures the way I want to live in 2010.

At Staplehurst

by Hubert Moore

No need to cross the bridge

to catch the train to London.

It sides up to you

and what you miss

is rabbits lounging in the present

green and easy

on the other side.

You don’t have to climb

the steps and look

at how they don’t consider

when, how long, how soon,

but keep time tender

by nibbling back and back

its blade-tip as it grows.

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