Thursday, May 17, 2012

Poem of Fear, Poem of Love

"There are things in that wallpaper that nobody knows about but me, or ever will."

In response to Meg Pokrass' most recent challenge to write a piece using a set of words she posted on Facebook, I wrote the poem below.

Even though I've been writing all my life, I am still  amazed at how playing with random words prompts the mind to weave patterns.  We can't help but make meaning.  It's who we are.  It wasn't until I was writing the last two stanzas that the connection to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" came to mind.

Then I could see how the poem is exploring ideas of fear:  fear about trying to fit into your "required" category, fear of change, fear fostered by dwelling in the past.  The poem allows me to see the absurdity of fear--and how we are, in fact, freer than we think (to paraphrase Michel Foucault).

(Word list:  pick, kitchen, frosting, divorce, hood, theory, bone, lipstick, change, alley, shadows, chastened, hug, swerve, hall, curtains)

The Yellow Wallpaper

Once there was no divorce.  Mom
stood in the kitchen, frosting a cake

to the bone.  Once there was no
change.  We were chastened by fake

fingernails, by too-bright lipstick.
How could we know bad from good

or pick out shadows from light?  Even the
curtains hung like an executioner’s hood.

In theory, we swerved from all alleys
and walked quickly down halls, skimming

the walls.  All the wallpaper was sallow
and soft as our skin, made for skinning. 

I also wrote a very different kind of poem, an occasional poem for Dave's birthday.  I much prefer living in love than fear, in yes than no.  And this poem says that to me, to him, to you.

A Life of Yes

When I said yes to you I said yes
to life.  Yes let’s move in.  Yes

take me down a snowy mountain,
yes love my body, a fountain

of pleasure.   Yes let’s odyssey.
Yes let’s take the world’s seas

and trees and flowers and animals
and people, people, people fully

into our hearts.  Yes at the bay
I accept the blue stone.  All todays

are ours.  Yes:  husband and wife.
Let’s love each other, and this life.

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