Susan's Poetry: Self-Reliance: Girl on a Swing by Winslow Homer (1879)
My poem grew as a result of an evening weeping and sobbing like I have never had before. My friend Helene suggests my experience might be explained by the Hebrew lament tradition--for which she has resources and she has run workshops with a wise friend. This interests me. Yet, I fear that taking it into lament tradition will intellectualize it before I have learned all that I can from it. So here, before I pursue that direction, I will try to put the experience itself into words as raw and true as the moments in which I lived it.
This writing is a step forward, a capture, from which will most likely come a death and a scientific dissection of the body. Let us call this phase getting to know the live animal in the wild, finding out where it will lead me or if it will eat out of my hand. Is there another option between me going wild or me taming it? If so, I hope I will discover it.
This poem was my reaction on the next day:
|Girl on a Swing by Winslow Homer (1879)|
Crying for hours with nohope of rescue createdthe river I neededto swim out to sea.Who knew what blessingsyour absence would bring?Now that I have descended cliffs,leapt into currents, breasted wavesand tasted the sea, your littlerope swing and your cautionhave no more appeal for me.
These are the parts as I see them prior to writing. This means I am trusting first instincts to have meaning in the narration of an event. I don't know how I would approach this if I hadn't written this poem which suggests form or structure:
- Situation of the crying
- Hope of rescue
- River (a) cliffs, (b) currents, (c) waves
I will write out each of these sections.
Until I do, here are the notes I have on each:
1. Situation of the crying: Pain. Spasms with follow up burning and inability to escape into sleepAnd there is a 5: Waking refreshed and changed with the sensation of love and possibility. Spending the day working on my body lovingly with each exercise. Writing this poem. Creating my notebook and calendar gifts. Talking on the phone to Avis. Talking in person to Nancy. Rounding the day with sleep.
2. Calling Nancy and asking for her company. Being turned down.
3. Crying actual wet tears. Not being able to stop. Calling out "O God!" and realizing I wanted God's help--a God I tried to visualize but could not. Perhaps that is the cliff that needed ascending/scaling descending, but what are the currents andthe waves? What is the experience of letting go and riding naked? Of trying not to?
4. Going there anyway. Crying in that place. A vast sea of Godness expanding me-ness, removing the boundaries of me-ness, absorbing me, rocking me to sleep. My cat was present.
And there is a 6: In a phone call Helene asking me to talk about "going to that place"--literaly and figuratively her call was a wake-up call. This is something to spend more time with.