Another piece hot off the presses, with some comments while they are still within reach:
I have mentioned the idea of ‘parings’ enough that it seems to have sunk in. Not only am I considering how they present throughout the day; they are also calling attention to their presence in my work. I found them there in the first place, so it’s only fitting–they can speak for themselves if anyone is listening. I don’t mean ‘they’ as if they were sentient. Sentience is apparently behind them, but they are the finger, not the Moon.
‘She’ does not have a strongly assigned character in most of the lyrics. Her nature is either inferred from the details of the poem, or is familiar from previous work. This work is meant to be shared; it isn’t intensely personal. Readers read from where they are, and will see in her what their own imaginations–or She–needs them to be. Lately she has had a sort of Virgin Mary aura because there has been a lot of pain and conflict in my world and the things most dearly sought were comfort, protection, and healing. My friends and I appealed to the most generously loving female Higher Self we could imagine in ourselves, and prayed to her. This is a process, not an ideology.
In everyday life, the result of a prolonged focus on healing and kindness has borne obvious results. My neighbors and I talk more and have been cooking and sharing food. This place used to have an own-business-minding atmosphere, but enough of us are stressed by the pandemic and general stresses of being poor that we have decided to pull together. Not by chance; the benefit of reaching out is a lesson introverts like me have to learn the hardest ways.
When I started really buckling down and practising hard to become a full-fledged poet, I was strongly influenced by one particular poet-songwriter, and one of the aspects of his work that I admired most was that he could take his audience through some terrible and very real places in memory and bodily experience–but he always brought them back out into safer places where the knowledge could be borne. Many people trusted him for this reason. They knew he had witnessed and felt what he sang of and was finding ways out that others could use after him. Some artists are more known for working with ‘magic’ than others, but leading others safely through hell is real magic. He always used to put me in mind of the Harrowing of Hell. It was Christ who did that, in tradition.
The model for accompanying a new poem with background and authorial comments is La Vita Nuova, Dante’s New Life. I read it early and often, under the influence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. A couple of my books are organized along similar lines. It will probably be an ongoing pattern. Listeners at poetry readings have told me the comments are helpful, although the poems should be able to stand on their own.
This is the very moment, this one, in which I reach the end of a lyric and–everything shifts:
17 February 2021
She stood looking at you sadly;
you stared down and saw your feet.
In an instant, nothing happened.
All has always been complete,
but you are still a missing something
no one in your self recalls
without a lonely longing under
shadows lining endless halls–
greyness in the middle distance,
fog and clouds outside, and more
confusion–and then heavens lifted
slowly, with resounding lore
found nowhere else to echo, only–
hollow ways in which you stood
lonelier than ever, knowing
beauty’s use for kindling wood–
till the winter gathered over-
head and left you mounds of snow.
Million-drifted crystal snowflakes,
show me what I’ve sought to know–
tomorrow drags a weary shadow
I must walk along within
hopelessly as drifted answers
find my freezing, fevered skin–
and they rush back and I am wrapped
securely in her lore’s unloss.
Forever in this ghost-grey mantle,
knowing moments meet and cross.