“she was feeling her way down in the dark.”

Posted on 08 July 2006

 Old Bathroom Sink

Yesterday was a strange heady day. I was sweeping the walk outside when the post woman handed me a parcel from Amazon. Only two days earlier, I had ordered three poetry books and they had arrived – Cohen, Rich, Rilke. I was so happy. I need answers to questions and who better to reference than these three? (But I have to tell you here that poetry puts me in a weird space. I feel as if I am a figure in a Chagall painting, floating above the earth.)

And so I rushed to the attic with my precious books and began with Rich. I read her “the school among the ruins” from cover to cover. I love her honesty. I love her comments on language.

And then I made a leap of thought and began to write in my journal: I must return to virgin land. [I paused here.] Have I ever been a virgin in the ancient sense of the word? At what age was I violated, forced to lie, forced to be something or someone I’m not? For the sake of love.

When you read me, what do you think? Pretentious bitch? Stupid fool? Poor dear? Brave Woman? I do not want to know. I invite no comment on this blog. I want neither praise nor condemnation. The first might push me to manipulate for more, the latter might crush me.

I write for me. [Is this true? I mentioned "blog" above.] I want to write whatever comes to mind, to be, who I am.

Why I wonder is who I am such a frightening thing?

Why at times do I groan at what appears on the page and tell myself to tear it up before anyone sees?

I think of Kate saying I use too many quotes and I’m glad she told me. I wasn’t aware that I use so many. I see that at this stage I need back-up. If some famous person agrees with me, I can’t be that fucked up.

My father and mother say that I use “bad words”. And I do. It’s the defiant part of me that wants to weed out the polite, the proper, the holier-than-thou reader. If you don’t like my fucking language go read Miss Manners.

Under the surface, I feel such anger – at myself and those who want me to be something I’m not. Or is this a projection? Why should I expect anyone to love every part of me when I don’t love every part of another?

But I do love respect adore, turn tender soft sweet with some whose imperfections then appear, in my mind, perfections.

What I want to do this month is let myself go on the page. I want to make writing a lover. I want it to free me, ravish me.

I write these words with my brave pen. Now I feel fear. Why? I don’t want to sound a fool. I shall swallow this fear and see what happens.

In one prose piece, Rich writes a “Mission Statement” about an organization whose purpose is to abolish cruelty, destroy despair. Language is a major concern
“because of its known and unknown powers
to bind and dissociate

because of its capacity
to ostracize the speechless

…to nourish self-deception

…for rebirth and subversion

because of the history
of torture
….against human speech

Anyone who writes knows the power of words. In “The Exact Moment I Became a Poet”, Paula Meehan writes “Words would pluck you,/ leave you naked,/ Your lovely shiny feathers all gone.”

Back of our house


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