Monday, January 27, 2014

Poetry On Canvas

Two years ago I was fortunate to have a poem win a particularly lovely award, which included an original oil painting inspired by the poem, painted by a local artist. The poetry and art were published in a small volume in the fall of 2012. Although, this is not the art created for the poem, it is my next favorite piece from the event and was chosen for the cover of the book.



A friend of mine asked where she could read the poem. This is for you, Caroline. Thanks for asking.


Winter heard me call your name

but the air was thick
with smell of rotting honeydew
the night my child lay ill and dying.

You wrapped me in your sweater.
I believed you for a moment when 
you said everything would be all right.

The moon covered her face in ash.

With morning, spring was gone.
I stayed cold indoors,
you made angels in the snow. 



When I read the poem at the art event, several people cried. One woman who had lost a child, asked me if the poem was autobiographical. I cried with her for a moment, then told her about the poem.

At first, I wondered if some ancient, long-gone ancestor was telling her story through me. It felt so vivid. A woman, speaking to her husband, who offers his sweater for comfort. They are losing a child. Perhaps their only child. When I wrote it I wept.

This poem remained on the dry-erase board in my kitchen for weeks. I kept looking at it and wondering about it. Several months later I discovered the meaning.

The child is innocence - a girl child, the most vulnerable part of society, something precious and dear. 

The woman is the feminine aspect of the soul, the gestating, inward-turning, receptive, inconsolable, mourning element of any human being. The yin, so-to-speak.

The man is the masculine aspect of the soul, the strong part, the expressive, outward-turning, action-taker who moves the body to "do something" in the face of loss, the part which makes us get up, get out, and create beauty from ashes. The yang.

This poem is about each of us. It speaks of the loss of something precious and perhaps irreclaimable and about how we respond to that loss. Every response is holy. The turning in, the moving out.

The poem is about making angels in the snow, when part of us wants to just lay down and die. On its face, the poem seems to be about death, but, really, it's about life.


8 comments:

Megan said...

This poem gave me chills. It's beautiful Melody. You are remarkable.

Anonymous said...

MJ. - Remarkable poem, Melody. So haunting. So true. I read it as the voices of mother and child back and forth from stanza to stanza - even more melded than that - almost speaking in chorus from both sides of the veil. The same words but in different elements - like a bird skimming and the watery reflection. Beautiful!

Melody said...

Megan, thank you. I think of you and your family often. So glad we met.

Melody said...

MJ - Your reading of the poem takes my breath away. This is the wonder and miracle of poetry. We live different things through it, each of us. Thank you for that beautiful interpretation.

Dan Parrington said...

Melody, I wanted to drop by just to say that I'd read your even-handed and articulate comment over at A Well Behaved Mormon Woman. It's a pleasure to encounter a perspective out here on the information highway that is reflective rather than provocative :)

Melody said...

Dan, thanks for taking time to leave a comment here. How kind of you. I don't generally jump in with posts like the one you refer to, but I felt compelled. Glad you appreciated it. Have a lovely day!

Melody said...

Dan, thanks for taking time to leave a comment here. How kind of you. I don't generally jump in with posts like the one you refer to, but I felt compelled. Glad you appreciated it. Have a lovely day!

Julie DeMille said...

One of my favorite things about writing is discovery. When we write things down as they come to us, not always knowing what they mean or where they come from.
Just lovely.