Sunday, May 2, 2021

SWAN SONG

I'm not sure exactly when I heard it but it might have been in the middle of the TED talk I was listening to last week. It was a generally funny talk by Tim Urban about procrastination, which focused on why people procrastinate, how deadlines affect us, and what happens when we don't have deadlines, in important areas such as our families, friendships, or entrepreneurial work. Near the end of the talk, he put up a screen filled with tiny boxes.  Each box represented a week in the life of someone who lived to be 90.  As Urban pointed out, everyone in the audience had already used up quite a number of those boxes. And of course, no one knows how many boxes they have left.

I've seen many different portrayals of how time flies, how little time we actually have in our lives, and how we have even less left. But somehow the starkness of those boxes laid out in rows on the screen spoke eloquently to me, particularly coming at a time when a number of my big projects are almost finished.  

I have gathered a 72-page collection of my poetry, In our green visions: The Pacific Trail, and it is currently being judged in a contest for poetry collections. I wrote a middle-grade novel, Sooners in Backwater,  which I have begun shopping to literary agents. I have written a non-fiction book, Spectacular Marriage, which is with a publisher and I hope will soon be coming out. I am waiting for my daughter Mary's final critique of my 42-page poetry chapbook, Portal of Light, so I can begin to submit it to publishers and contests.  Each of the books has taken years to complete; the chapbook was begun in 2018 and has gone through more changes than any of the others, but I also judge that it is the best thing I have ever written.  In the process of writing it, I have rediscovered in a deeper way that my charism, the primary way I am called to share my gifts, is through poetry. I have been writing more poetry than ever before, and working on revising and polishing it with a passion that has become more intense as I pursue it. 

As I pondered the boxes on that screen, I knew that I want to fill more of the life I have left with what I can say and share with my poetry. Therefore, I am singing a swan song for this blog with a poem I wrote when I was a young mother often feeling tied to a brown house and endless mundane chores involved in raising 6 children and cooking and cleaning for them as well as for my husband and parents, who lived with us. My beloved husband was far more of a help with everything than part of the burden, but there was still an exhausting round of things to be done.  I can remember my son at about age 3 sitting at his little desk, saying "There's lots of work to be done."

When I thought of giving up this blog, I realized that I have learned much from writing it, especially since I started publishing every week, but I also have grown wings to soar into my chosen land of poetry. Look for me in the air.

CALIFORNIA PASSAGES


Drained at dawn, the night

sky is scoured blue;

soapsuds curl up on chaparral slopes,

with beckoning roads still

in morning lull:

here, there are no forced marches.


If I deny this gravity,

ignore the pull of house and street

and rise on buoyant feet


day lengthens into light,

mockingbird lyric, summer space

and glimpse of western ranges.

Heartbeat lengthens to a lope--


but calendars weave cocoons

of sentinel pines and splintered moons.

In the dark, gargoyles colonize

the eucalyptus trees,

coydogs, possums, cricket-charged breeze

swirl into dream.


I do not seem

a prisoner of this brown house, these days

of subtle routine chains,

riveted to a window view

--clock time framed--

distilled, restrained,

sparse slices of seasons,

like flint to flame:


one intense vision

held at bay.


Birds paying morning calls

light the blowtorch of sunrise

etch arches 

in these stuccoed walls


I fly free.