A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Monday, November 16, 2015

Love After Love

Derek Walcott

A new friend posted this on his facebook page.  I thought it lovely and wanted to capture it here.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here.  Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit.  Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

One of the wonders of poetry is that it is always read through the filters of the reader.  I cried the first twenty times I listened to Sara Bareilles' new song, "She Used to be Mine."  Which is nothing new, but this time I was feeling the lyrics at a deeper level than even most of the time.

And then she'll get stuck and be scared
Of the life that's inside her
Growing stronger each day
'Til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little
To bring back the fire in her eyes

It took me another dozen times to realize that "the life that's inside her" is actually a life.  This character is pregnant.  But the lyric spoke to me more symbolically, as I am scared of the new me that emerges, growing stronger each day and learning to fight just a little. And for me, the fire will be new to my eyes.

In the same way, it took a dozen times to realize that Wolcott is talking about someone recovering from the loss of a person.  Another person.  A person they had loved.  And who was gone.

Didn't catch it at all.

A few months ago someone walked past my life and made me wonder, what would my home look like to someone who didn't know me?  I took a walk around and realized that a stranger would think a little girl lived here.  It made me smile.  Gently.  I am well aware that I was never a little girl.

I remember the most powerful writing exercise for me in Julia Cameron's program, The Artist's Way, was to write a letter to yourself from yourself at age eight.  She told me -sweetly and calmly with the insight of someone who is experiencing and knows they will experience - told me that I didn't have to be afraid of "them."  She wasn't specific but it didn't matter, as I've pretty much been afraid of "them" my whole life.  And I broke.  I've never experienced the "broken-hearted sobbing" that I did that afternoon, standing in my sunset room crooning to that sweet little thing, "You poor baby, you were such a good little girl.  You didn't deserve any of that."

And so I indulge her now.  With a studio painted in the colors of the sunset (or the sunrise, depending on the time) and filled with butterflies, faeries and mermaids. 

"You will love again the stranger who was your self."

I may have loved her once.  In my case, the "another" has had all of the faces.  Except mine.  "...the stranger who has loved you all your life" is the life that is fighting for that fire.

As I started to recover the self I'd "ignored all my life," I started to feel something inside start to sputter.  Eventually I had an evening where, writing in my darkened room with something gorgeous on the headset, I realized that if anyone opened my door right then they would see sparks shooting out of my pores, and from then on I started referring to the Fourth of July sparkler that lives inside me.  Sometimes it almost goes out (although less often now), and sometimes it is rockets exploding forth in all directions, and often it is just a sweet sputter of a little flame, kept safe in the heart of an inner eight-year-old with solemn hazel eyes and long dark curls.

Come.  Sit.  Let's feast on this life of ours.

I think it will taste of HoneyCrisp apples.

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