Sunday, August 23, 2009

Needed: A Wee Bit of White Light

There's something I'll blog about soon, but for now, many generalized prayers, thoughts of white light, and goodness are needed.

In the meantime, let me give you a poem by Eavan Boland, a beautiful poem, the aesthetic of which inspires me.

This Moment

A neighbourhood.
At dusk.

Things are getting ready
to happen
out of sight.

Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.

But not yet.

One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.

A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
this moment.

Stars rise.
Moths flutter.
Apples sweeten in the dark.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


It was that time of the year again and the girl decided she'd go back to a place she previously found love and peace and understanding, but this year she would go alone. Well, not entirely alone since she would be meeting friends there, but it would be the first time she'd pack up camping equipment, trek into the Land, and pitch a tent alone. She worried how she would find her friends, if she would be lonely. She thought about taking her boy baby, but decided it would be wrong to use him like a teddy bear. She was an adult and didn't need her boy to sleep with her in the bed.

When she left the house, a full moon sat above her head. She was always drawn to the moon and it seemed like it was leading her where she needed to go. The path wavered, but when she made it to the Land, the sun was high over her head. Women called out to her, "Welcome home!" She could smell the grass. Crickets were everywhere. (Cricket!) On the dirt road she had to pass a car that held two women, kissing each other passionately just before the gates, a safe place for them. For her too. But the kissing women made her longing intensify and she thought about turning around. She got out her ticket instead, had the red tie circle her wrist, worried it was too tight.

The shuttle bounced her deep into the Festival, the familiar landscape looked different alone, from the view of an old bus. Usually she hauled all the equipment across woodchipped paths, huffing and puffing with a partner by her side. This time she sat silently, thought about how different, how easy this seemed. The bus let her out, someone took her gear down and placed it next to her. She looked down, lost, and then next time she looked up it was into the eyes of a friend. She wasn't alone. The friend helped her put up the tent, locate other friends, meet new ones. The girl took her first deep breath and felt it stick.

Later that night the first tears came. Usually she camped in the deep woods where she didn't hear much of anything at all, but this time she was in the thick of things. Women sang karoke, from another direction the primal sound of a drum circle, and yet another an open mike and someone belting out Purple Rain. It was all beautiful until there was torch song about someone not being able to make someone else love them, and the then tears, the snotty grovelly tears into an air mattress and the hope that no one could hear her. She turned off her battery powered lantern so she could cry into the dark the night. And then she stopped, turned the light back on. Read her book, fell asleep.

She cried a few more times, under a huge oak tree, the rain falling around her, listening to love songs sang for other women, children running all around her with glow sticks. She watched her feet walk down the path alone. She looked up at drawing clouds and lightening and got into the tent alone, trying to be strong as the rain the came down hard. She laughed loudly with friends, nursed some women's wounds, held her friends closely to her. She was alone. She was connected. She made new friends.

The girl walked through the rain at the Festival, walked through the humidity, danced to a drum orchestra where the leader told the fierce women around her to "work it all out through the dance." She pounded her feet on the ground, raised her arms to the sky. She closed her eyes and felt the tears dance back, and then opened them quickly. She didn't want to cry just then. Later another friend lead her up to the water, to anoint her fears and help to heal her. She knew she'd be back next year.
She will go back there again: Maybe alone again, maybe not. She might take her boy or she might leave him with his other mom. She will know though that land will always be a haven, a place where she will be taken for what she is and the women there will celebrate her flaws and beauties as a part of the whole. These women who know without flaws, there is no beauty.

See you next year....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Here's a secret: Before I started working as a nurse, I was less than proud of being a nurse. "Congratulations" everyone said as my BSN was conferred with honors. "Woopee" everyone said when I passed my boards and became a bona fide RN. "Well done!" were the exclamations I got after securing a job in ICU as my first nursing job, and I smiled a weak smile. Great, I thought, with chagrin, to each accolade handed my way. That is until I started actually doing my job. Now I love taking care of my people, holding their hands, hugging them, being there when they let go of this world, take their families into my heart. I feel my job in my core, and my patients know it and I think they love me for it.

So I went off the farmers market this morning, tired with the night still on me after working 12 hours, but pleasant in the memory of the job I did. And then I ran into a professor I had in my doctoral program, a very very staid British man. Before I started the doctoral program in English, I was working towards an MAT in teaching elementary education. On a whim, I entered a poetry contest through my university sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. And then I won. This professor called me at home to let me know I won the first prize.

"Get OUT!" I yelled into the phone, a la Elaine Benes. He was taken aback, to be sure.

"No, really. You have won the first prize," he said in his very upper crust grape-in-mouth accent. "And now I must know, who are you?"

I had no way to answer that question other than the poems he had splayed on his desk. I went on to write much more in the doctoral program, entering other contests, winning some, placing in others, but this professor remained a staunch fan of mine, so today when I saw him, he was surprised to see me; he thought I was off somewhere teaching writing, doing poetry.

"Oh, yes. I am definitely going to get back to that now that I am settled in my job. I'm working as a nurse in an ICU," I said, chest puffing out a little with pride.

His face fell. "Oh no," he groaned. "Oh, that's terrible. Just terrible. You aren't writing? You should be writing your poetry." And he went on and on as I stood there, wishing I could pull a prize winning poem out of my pocket, cite some publication from last month. Instead the publication I have is from probably two years ago and a dreadfully woefully neglected skein of poems. He assured me that he encouraged me to forward only because he thought I did have the metier to write, and he wouldn't just tell anyone this. I smiled. After all, it was compliment.

I promised him now that I am settled in my job, I'd write more. I told him I have so many poems in me that the problem would be having the patience to get them out right, an anxious muse has landed next to me, and I think I will start writing again.

I think I'll start here again, this old faithful blog, dusty, but still worthy. Watch this space.

Thanks, Professor B. Thank you ever so much,

P.S. I still am proud about being nurse today. He could only add to my mood, not detract.