The theme tune for today’s #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge promp is ‘Sentimental Journey.’ We were asked to reconsider places of fondest memory or where we feel our best selves dwelt, or places of pilgrimage. But, nope! Maybe it is because I hitched my wagon to a man who likes to explore new stars. We have never been a couple to go back to the same places, unless we are visiting family. Even then you are tracking the changes since the last time. What’s new? Perhaps the haze of golden memory is the only place for sentimental journey. Today’s Poetry Daily reveals just how hard-hearted (or hard-headed) I can be.
There's more wow in now than in nostalgia. The costumes change since when, not to mention that scenery shifts happen. I cannot revisit a shabby London Town where love struck me again. They've gentrified the old neighbourhood. It's gone all hipster beard, flash rail links. Coffee bars replace Turk's Working Men's Clubs. We have all moved on and out. There's no one left. They've even changed the library's name where we first met and you knew that I'd be your wife (as strange as a thought as that). No, it's better to not look back. So concentrate on this precious moment - the rain's soft pattering on the gladioli. There's more wow in the now than in nostalgia.
I was searching for Thursday quotations for inspiration, being in a bit a flap after sleeping a solid eleven hours. (Guess the rest schedule is still being imposed even if this is summer staycation time.) After yesterday’s flirtation with Mercury, I went researching Thor, he who gives his name to Throwback Thursday! Given the quotation I picked for the Poetry Daily it probably does qualify for the hashtage #ThrowbackThursday. Because I offer you words accompanied with images from winter! Amidst all the quotations referencing a cinematic and comic hero of the name, I came across these provocative words by one of my youthful heroes, the author of Civil Disobedience and On Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau.
(Literary reference aside: the Isle of Innisfree, that is not twenty miles from where I live, is thought to have been inspired by Thoreau’s Walden Pond. Yeats imagined living there. Thoreau lived it. And it probably was not all that comfortable.)
There are no hammers in the Poetry Daily today. But there is an homage to the Thoreau quotation and his philosophy of non-violent direct action. Which requires the patience of a spring thaw after a New England winter. And some year’s that can take up to six months of patience! At least according to reports from friends who live in Maine.
All these images of ice and references to thaw may seem counterintuitive for a post on the first of August. But then we are in the dog days of August, when staying hydrated is really important!
The dog days of August are nearly upon us, where we will be at the mercy of the barometric pressure and ambient temperature. It’s midweek, Wednesday, day of Woden and Mercury. We have another week of Mercury being retrograde and we can begin to inch forward on projects. The eclipses of July are about to roll out the effects of their causes. The Poetry Daily in closing in on the six weeks to the first anniversary of the poem a day post of what has become The Poetry Daily.
I have two little quotation poems on infographics to sing out the month of the July. The first is from British dramatist David Hare, which includes the title in the quotation. The second first line comes from Irish Nobel literary laureate Samuel Beckett. They have been celebrating him just over the border from us in Enniskillen in their Happy Days Festival.
So this is where my mind was when it came to take up my pen this morning.
This is Us This Being Both
I can hold more than one thought in the same minute. Like checking the weather for the weekend, what to pack, remember to buy toothpaste, sparing a section of my brain for some little brown child in Clint, Texas who doesn't have a toothbrush, much less soap, toothpaste, or bed. It's bedtime and some talking head says, " This isn't us!" Except, friend, it is. We can be both high-minded and complicit in low-down deeds. What has anyone of us done today for that child with lice, snotty nose and a dirty diaper more than days old? No. We are not very nice.
Everything is conspiring to make us choose just one thing, like toddlers offered a treat. UK passport? Or Irish one? As if hundreds of years of being both will be erased by making everyone squeeze like sausage meat into a single, someone else's skin. Will those little brown children now ever want to identify as American?
We betray no one by being complicated or even as conflicted as love. Most just want to do the day, running down their list with someone who might want to touch them in kindness, if not love. Even if that someone is full of contradiction, like the kindly grampus who pared apples for you when his missus babysat, but also said the N word which Mommy said was very bad.
Maybe then someone who might just look past all those labels not demand single brand loyalty. This is not who you think we are? But this IS us. Yes, this is us.
Midweek. Humpday. My last in a long series of story making Cruinniú na nÓg (Creativity for Kids) workshops today with the nine of the most creative kids in a tiny upland school in West Cavan. Working with them has been wholly a pleasure. With sixteen classroom hours, I have had the leisure to get to know them pretty well and have grown fond of them and their school. Each time I visit one will ask if I wrote a poem today, or its title, or what its about. Not all of these kids are naturally fluent writers. Some prefer maths. One is only nine years old. Some have admitted the brief was a bit hard. But I will say this. Whether any becomes an artist or writer is irrelevent. All are incredibly creative. They have proved that over and over. Even when its has been hard and they felt it didn’t work every single one kept trying. They did the research. They got excited. They got down to the page.
Can’t let the kids down. Got to face the blank page. I turned to a new short poem form I’ve never tried before called the tricube. Each line has three syllables. Each stanza has three lines. There are three stanzas. Yet another new poetry form to experiment with in poetry practice today.
Ye know, that's a whole nuther sit-u- ation we don't want to think about, kiddo. Tarnation! Gimme that! Ye know, we don't have to go see the ships come in at Buckhorn. It's like Santa. And Santa's a whole nuther thing. Thanksgiving! We got everyone here. I hate potluck. Velma insists. I don't want to hurt feelings, but...her pierogi is a whole nuther entirely.
copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
The prompt for Day 20 NaPoWriMo 2019 is to not use fancy pants poetry speech. Well two phrases from my Pennsylvania childhood leapt out of my hypocampus. It’s not so much monologue as a mall walking stream of consciousness.
Often what connects people is loss. Poetry is all about making connections. They even have that slogan on the NaPoWriMo.net website banner. Losses…we have all had some, whether it is a loved one – pet or person – or a job, a home, a family. In the way that the universe operates in synchronicity a bedtime conversation last night feels appropriate for the morning’s poetry practice.
Last night at bedtime your daughter and I discussed you. And really? You raised your kids fine. But they miss you.
Part of it is emptying the family homeplace. First, your clothes to all your favourite charity shops. Then the NHS patient appliances back to the hospital. Again. But.. It's all good recycling. Still... your daughter flees the house absent of your smell. Empty now has a scent. Also, the having to fold your reading glasses found on your bedside cabinet beside the Jodi Picoult book you will never now know how it all ended.
Her friends are kind. But they are young and think the object of grief is to forget its ache. All she wants to do is remember you. So we talk of what went right and some of your unlived life.
Just before she leaves before the lights go out and kisses my cheek saying "Night Night" I tell your daughter how all daughters eventually become their mothers. Even if only in our small foibles. Like the reminder notes I post beside my purse and on the kitchen counter for tomorrow just like my own mother. And your daughter goes to her bed with a smile.