This blog is a record of a writing journey.
Having lived in three countries (to date) I must have what my mother calls 'itchy feet.' Perhaps that makes me an experienced sojourner, someone who stays temporarily in places. But I am also someone deeply interested in acquainting myself with the soul of that place during my sojourn.
As I was surfacing into consciousness this morning I asked myself, What does my soul want to write this morning? And the true answer was, Something fluffy. Because into every dark season there must be some light relief. Mondays don’t always need a Ms. Motivator. Fashion qualifies for a more gentle theme to enter a new week.
It will come as a surprise to many (especially my brother) that I actually do scan the fashion columns. Okay, it is pretty much limited to Jess Cartner-Morley in the Guardian, but still…I maintain a social anthropological interest in clothing and fashion. And one of her columns is the direct source of inspiration I sipped at this morning when my Poetry Daily motor was idling. In addition, along with some college buddies, I confess to maintaining an aesthetic interest in historical dress and costume. We salivate together via Facebook tags. I will also admit that I harbour a deep appreciation of handbag design. Imelda Marcos can keep the shoes!
Anyway, I digress. Here is today’s Poetry Daily.
It’s got to be all colour. Or it’s all black. No half-measures.
Here’s where I pause to consider how culture is a mirroring
of what’s happening, what will be history. Trends are zeitgeist.
Time maybe to be getting the real New Look – a compliment.
We don’t have to be matchy- matchy, maybe just try for a
compromise. Bi-partisan mix and match looks that dialogue.
That look great on the many shapes and sizes, in-betweens, too.
Set a new trend that will not divide wardrobes. Resist advice.
Two weeks ago I began lighting a Sunwheel wreath, which is a pagan version of the Advent Wreath where we light the final candle on Winter Solstice (this year 21st/22nd depending on your location on the planet) instead of Christmas Day. Beth Owl Daughter popularised this custom. This is the season of darkness no matter what your spiritual persuasion or religious affiliation. Jews will be coming to the end of the eight day celebration of Hanukkah, lighting the final candle on the menorah tomorrow, 10th December. It is a human impulse to light a match to a candle wick or an oil lamp in the dark time of year.
Christians will light the second candle for Love this week. You can find that poem in last week’s post (https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/12/01/advent/) Meanwhile, pagans will be lighting the solitary pink candle for joy at sundown tonight. When these Sunwheel/Advent wreath poems came to me I heard them with a wee tune in my ‘inner ear.’ Last week I posted a video just in case you feel like singing the poem as you light your wreath. You can find the video and tune at this link. on my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/Df3J08djsYg.
So here’s to you…some Joy.
I light a candle for joy to celebrate with glee. I light a candle for joy for all the states of ecstasy.
I light a candle for joy praying that all shall be happy. I light a candle for joy so elation may shine brightly.
I light a candle for joy though the world can make you weary. I light a candle for joy that we may be less proud and haughty.
Light a candle for joy! Light a candle for joy! Light a candle for joy to bless the dark. Light a candle for joy to bless its spark. Light a candle for joy so we all may hark.
Let the candle flames blaze with our good intentions this sundown.
Today’s post is very late. I did poetry practice in the pre-dawn dark. But I stayed awake for it, having been out late to a music session in a local pub. We crept in at 3am. My dear husband was sound asleep instantaneously, having played guitar and sung his heart out for five hours solid. I was a bit hoarse, too, from chiming in on choruses. But my night owl clock had got switched back on and so I quietly padded about the house, made myself a cup of tea, and got down to writing away my sleeplessness.
Many, many hours and missions accomplished later (propped up by a triple shot cappucino, bless my barristas heart!) I came back to it at supper time to type up, revise and post the poetry daily.
In the Belly of the Year
This nearly old year is a whale. It has swallowed me whole, Jonah-style. I am trampolining on its liver and lites, head banging against its ribs.
A whale may supply oil, but no lamp, no light. It is the seed of the dark moon during days that are mostly night, and the nights full of cloud, tarry dark.
It turns out I am indigestible whale fodder. However, there is a queue to wait your time to be purged. I daydream being spat out upon a smooth sand beach along with the seaweed and shells.
To be washed in oceanic amniosis sounds quite pleasant after being in the belly of a whale. And will I come out holding a seashell? An oyster, perhaps, rubbed down raw with sand and grit, with a pearl within, the gift from the parting year.
Sometimes our thoughts, as well as the myriad things on our ‘to do’ lists are like those pidgeons in today’s featured image. “It’s just your thoughts, watch your thoughts,” my husband mutters sagely But not very helpfully at that moment. Because there is a lot more to my life then the Poetry Daily. Especially, at this time of year. Like most other people. But, most especially, most other women who don the persona of Mother Christmas. And like the photo, that feels like what is happening,at least in my head – a hundred birds flapping their wings simultaneously clammering for my attention.
Christmas is coming and many women will be lashing themselves with activity to prepare to perfection the holiday plans for family and friends. The reality is often end of day exhaustion and an uphill battle to get all those items ticked of the list. And if they don’t get a tick, I feel like I am going to be added to Santa’s Naughty List.
Brené Brown writes about how what foils a woman being able to come into the power of her vulnerabililty is a cultural ideal of perfection. You know, how women can do it all and have it all! (We do know this is tosh, but still some of us gamely get suckered in to it, especially this time of year.) Never more than in the holiday season, do many women (including me) feel the brunt and weight of that lash of perfection. The reality is that I am running a marathon with a few sprints to 19th December. And this morning I feel knee-capped. Although astrology pundits advise once Mercury goes direct and the New Moon begins to blaze things might feel different.
But I got up and got the notebook out for the Poetry Daily. Nonetheless, she persisted…at least, with the poetry. That can be written in bed, with a cup of tea and some Ibuproen close to hand.
Dreams of Perfection
All night she dreamed that the tip of her tongue was scalded, chili pepper hot soup licked by someone else’s ideals of perfection.
In the morning, a tentative check – no scar tissue. But still. True, there’s a ghost of sensation, the sting of cayenne.
It took me a while to get the poetry engine started this morning. I had to doodle around some ideas. From my window I noticed the magpies that visit our suet feeder. They always remind me of the English rhyme. I am constantly curious about the seven magpies’ secret. Which led me on a train of thought to experiment with sevens. After all, I have tried octets and elevenies. Why not a sevenie? Also, there are so many seven themes – deadly sins, virtues, heavens.
Today’s Poetry Daily is all about experiementation and you need to break a few eggs when you are baking a cake. You also have to be willing to make a mess and maybe have the recipe fail. I have started with seven words, or seven syllables or the word seven and seven kinds of things.
Seven sins not to be told The body of secret Occult formula What is hidden Divides Us
Behold the mystical spheres of seventh heaven! When ancient human's world was geocentric the seven planets could be seen with the naked eye - the astronomical meaning of paradisial awe.
Seven Veilsfor Seven Sins and Virtues
The vain might think seven veils are insurance of chastity, but the proud never see the picture in the mirror. Only temperance precludes gluttony. It's true - giving is better than envy and generosity is the antidote of greed. Applying diligence in your work they do advise could counteract the musk of lust. Both can be addictive, though surely what is illness cannot be intepreted as intemperance. Likewise, I have sometimes thought patience can look a lot like sloth. It all depends upon your frame of mind. I suppose that means we are down to the final veil in this waltz of sin and virtue. When even modesty is deprived her pants, standing there trembling with her wrath for all to see. That just leaves us with kindness to have the final bow and say - to allay and deflect when all is in disarray.
Winter arrived yesterday with a hard frost and black ice on our lane that did not melt off until late morning. We had errands to run.Our industry was rewarded on the drive back home with the most exquisite exhibition of low lying mist under the karst backdrop of Boleybrack. We stopped for me to take a snap on my phone, one of which is today’s featured photo. Sadly, I couldn’t get an angle that would have shown off the full profile of the sphinx-like mountain that broodingly guards over the region where the Shannon River starts its journey to the sea. It really does look like an Anubis and locals refer to it by nicknames like The Dog Mountain, or just The Big Dog. Such are the marvels of this internationally designated region. We live in a Geopark community and we certainly live with a bounty of natural and built heritage and its abundant beauty.
So my poetry daily harkens back to that trip along the R207 as we approached Dowra. I was delayed by a few chatty cows who were eager for a photo call. I realise that a herd of differant species are cramming into both the post and the poem, but that’s my life out here living in a geopark.
Bear in Winter
Wait patiently in thedark, Rumi has said. Even in the winter dawn’s half-light. The sun’s dimmer switch is set just on glow. It watches us from behind net curtains, filtering light through banks of mistiness, making the world seem muffled in whiteness. The Anubis in our local mountain snoozes, content under a month’s long frost and more, the ice and snow an enfeebled sun cannot melt down with its golden horde. We settle under theheft of layers- Sweaters, fleeces, duvets and blankets. The whole weight of this passing year bears down. It is time to lay it down. And, for us, to curl up and recline, to rest and sleep, to behave like our childhood’s cuddly toy. To make like the bears for our souls to keep.
I woke up well pre-dawn today. So poetry practice in early darkness is back on track. And I had an inkling that I wanted to write about ancestral objects. I seem to collect objects that have family story attached. My walls are adorned with paintings by my father-in-law, brother-in-law, great uncle and niece. I have family tree photo montages. Yet there are plenty of blanks in the family history, as well as some secrets and probably a few lies, too.
After I wrote today’s poem – which is a curtal sonnet, a form invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins – I realised that today is my name day. In German tradition, you celebrate your patron saint’s feast day. Today is St. Barbara’s Day. I am Barbara the Third on the paternal line. So Happy Name Day Oma and Grandma!
The featured photo is of a portable writing desk that a cousin passed to me. When a friend refurbished it we realised that it had been an 1879 Christmas present from my maternal Great-great Grandmother Mary Ella to my Great-Grandmother Mary Ella (there are a lot of mother/daughter name repetitions on both sides of the family!). There was writing on the underside of the writing case in faded ink that said as much and recorded the date of the gifting. Helga reckoned it was handmade. There were a few signs of a shortcuts taken in its manufacture, probably as the deadline of the Great Day loomed.
In the days before laptop computers, these personal writing cases or lap desks were important personal objects. It felt fitting that a writer in the family became custodian.
We like to keep tokens to memory Be it book or china jug or medal. These solid things are both secrets and clues. Ancestral objects of passed family, Proof of links we cannot deny or annul. They cannot speak. May not have wanted to. The object remains of stories they leave – A wedding ring, Will’s ruining fiddle - What stories we tell are family’s glue. Do they speak of love? Are we done with grief? How true?