I’ve been feeling a bit estranged from myself for awhile. This might seem odd coming from one who’s made a profession of self-discovery. Yet, the fact is that since my last book came out, I’ve been beset by a restless discomfort and confounding dreams.
A part of me is not surprised. I can’t count the times I’ve undergone similar transitions after leaving an outworn psychological house behind. And I know I’ll experience more as long as I’m alive and growing. But another part of me expected this move to be shorter and easier. Shouldn’t I be getting better at adjusting to change?
Actually, I am getting better. I trust the processes of my psyche. I know my yearning for closure comes from an impatient ego longing for an end to the questions: What’s going on with me? What next? And I know closure will come when I’ve stayed present with the questions for as long as it takes.
Nonetheless, to give my unconscious a little nudge, last year during a ritual at Maeve’s tomb on the summit of a limestone hill in Ireland I asked the Celtic Queen of the fairies for a clearer understanding of the recurring symbolism of excrement in my dreams. Then last month in Greece, after a year of numerous dreams featuring the color orange, new babies, and feelings of being helpless and overwhelmed, I asked the Oracle at Delphi for direction in my life and writing.
So yesterday morning I wrote what may be my first real poem!
I’ve tried poetry off and on for years, but even the published few wouldn’t get air time on Amateur Hour. This is not false humility but an honest assessment of my limitations. I’m wordy. I tend to ramble. I have lacked a proper appreciation for subtlety; a true understanding of the power of imagery; and the patience to condense wimpy words and loose thoughts into a coherent idea with emotional impact.
This summer I received a book of poetry titled “Searching for Hummingbirds” from Betsy Holleman. I met her years ago at a writing conference led by novelist Rosellen Brown and poetess Dorianne Laux. I hadn’t written any poems since the conference, but Betsy’s book inspired me to write a memorial poem for my mother. I’m not happy with the result, but the process filled several enormously pleasurable hours.
I think that’s what motivated me to order “A Skinful of Dust” by Brian Carlin, an award-winning poet from Glasgow. We’ve followed and commented on each other’s blog posts for a few years and often find inspiration in each others’ writing. His book is a treasury of sturdy words and startling images that sparked a deeper resonance with poetry than I’ve ever felt before. And a book he recommended, Gaston Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space,” is opening my mind to creative depths I never knew existed.
Then yesterday morning I was blown away by the latest post from poet/artist Steven McCabe. His post “Autumn Morning,” is based on a poem by Pablo Neruda and complemented with original art and a vintage-looking video. It evoked such an unusually rich reverie that I set aside my morning Sudoku ritual to write a poem about it.
I’m not prepared to share it here yet. The poem is too fresh, my emotions are too raw, and my baby is too vulnerable for mass exposure. But I feel like I’m standing at the threshold of an exciting new adventure in creativity and I wanted to celebrate with you.
The Wilbur Award is given by the Religion Communicators Council for excellence in communicating religious faith and values in the public arena and for encouraging understanding among faith groups on a national level.