Archive for April, 2010

truth, lies, and poetry

Before I begin, let me share:

Angel of Duluth [excerpt] by Madelon Sprengnether

I lied a little. There are things I don’t want to tell you. How lonely I am today and sick at heart. How the rain falls steadily and cold on a garden grown greener, more lush and even less tame. I haven’t done much, I confess, to contain it. The grapevine, as usual, threatens everything in its path, while the raspberry canes, aggressive and abundant, are clearly out of control. I’m afraid the wildflowers have taken over, being after all the most hardy and tolerant of shade and neglect. This year the violets and lilies of the valley are rampant, while the phlox are about to emit their shocking pink perfume. Oh, my dear, had you been here this spring, you would have seen how the bleeding hearts are thriving.

It’s been National Poetry Month. All month long. All month long, I’ve been receiving poems every day in my email from the poetry foundation, and another  from the fabulous Jessica, who anchors my writing group. I’ve been more immersed in poetry than usual this month. I even attended a poetry workshop. I swear I found new muscles in my brain and emerged exhausted and yet exhilarated from that adventure.

The poetry, I’ll admit, doesn’t quite roll  in the easy way that even the most lyrical prose does for me. But I think  poetry, somehow, whether by virtue of its mystery or its intensity, has provided a space and language for thoughts and feelings I’ve held deepest and tightest;  things I hardly wanted to admit to myself. The way Anne Sexton’s The Moss of His Skin speaks of  sorrow and longing for a lost father  with an intensity that  I myself had long  buried, in order that I could go on living every day and get on with my life.  And a  way to say things out loud,  on paper, and with my own personal vocabulary  about events which I knew had existed, or had happened,  but preferred instead to treat as a gothic fairy tale instead of my own personal history.  They say even the most outrageous lie  holds a particle of some  truth. Perhaps so. Even when I’m slaving and cursing away at it, and feeling really dumb and inept in so doing,  I feel on my way to freeing myself.


heart’s mirror

“We’ll always be young and unwise together. There is, I suppose, in the eyes of the They, a sort of sweet mad bewilderment and astonishment oblivious to the Nasties and the Meanies; you’re the only person, of course, you’re the only person from here to Aldebaran and back, with whom I’m free entirely; and I think it’s because you are as innocent as me.”

Dylan Thomas, 1936, in a letter to wife Caitlin McNamara

I first came across this passage in the summer of my 21st year; a crazy, semi-promiscuous period of confusion, angst, and, ironically, in the midst of  this flailing, rebellious wantonness, perverse denial (on so many levels). I read this passage of Dylan’s to his bride and it was the beginning of my understanding of true love.


Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy,

absentminded. Someone sober

will worry about things going badly,

Let the lover be.

——Um, this is so going with me to the poem-in-the-pocket swap.

April 2010
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