Tag Archives: regrets

Creeping Shadows

Creeping Shadows

I have no wish to classify shadowy explorations—
furtive trips to low-life bars or questionable vacations.
I’m aloof in my present. I don’t think about my past.
I have no need to dwell upon times more overcast.
In past attempts to deal with them, I tried to rearrange them
to find they only frustrate me because I cannot change them.

Still, memory’s tyranny will win. I can’t escape, it seems.
Those shadows banished in the day creep back into my dreams.

 

Prompt words today are shadowy explorations, classify, aloof, frustrate and tyranny.

“I Imagine” dVerse Poets, Prose Poetry

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I Imagine

I imagine one more holiday.
My mother sits at a large picture window
looking out over a broad beach,
watching dogs fetching sticks.
Then, because she cannot help it,
she takes her shoes off to walk through packed sand.
I imagine her sighting the offshore rock
where puffins nest.
I imagine footprints—hers and mine
and the paw prints of the dog—
someone else’s—
who joins us for the price of a stick thrown
over and over into the waves.

My mother could count her trips to the beach
on one hand,
and most of those times have been with me.
Once, in Wales, we sat on the long sea wall
under Dylan Thomas’s boathouse.
A cat walked the wall out to us,
precise and careful
to get as few grains of sand as possible
between its paw pads.
As it preened and arched under my mother’s smooth hand,
its black hairs caught in her diamond rings.

The other time we went to the beach
was in Australia.
We stayed out all afternoon,
throwing and throwing a stick,
a big black dog running first after,
then in front of it,
my dad sleeping in the car parked at the roadside,
my mother and I playing together
as we had never played before.

My mother and the ocean
have always been so far divided,
with me as the guide rope in between.
I imagine reeling them both in toward each other
and one more trip.
My mother, me, a dog or cat.
Wind to bundle up for and to walk against.
Wind to turn our ears away from.
Sand to pour out of our pockets
to form a small  volcano
with a crab’s claw at the top.

So that years from now,
when I empty one pocket,
I will find sails from by-the-wind sailors
and shark egg casings,
fragile black kelp berries
and polished stones.
The bones of my mother. The dreams of me.

From the other pocket, empty,
I will pull all the reunions I never fought hard enough for—
regrets over trips to the sea we never made.
And I’ll imagine taking me to oceans.
Walks. Treasures hidden in and hiding sand.
Someone walking with me—
someone else’s child, perhaps,
and a dog chasing sticks.

Note: I never took that last trip to the ocean with my mother, but I think of her every year when I come to stay at the beach on my own, and this year in particular, every time I throw the stick for Morrie and every time children come to play with us. Here is a link to my favorite photo of my mother, plus other stories and poems about her.

Written for the dVerse Poets prompt, Prose Poetry.To play along, go HERE.

                                                   Revisioning a Life

I don’t know if it helps much to revision the past.  I think we make decisions according to our background and our chemical makeup and genes and “knowing” that different choices might have contributed to your life turning out differently doesn’t necessarily mean that you would make different decisions even if you knew how they would play out.

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be around people.  I think this was primarily because I didn’t have a clear enough idea about what to do when I was alone.  If I’d had art classes or someone who encouraged me to write stories when I was small, I might have developed a need for lots of time alone earlier.  As it was, I started reading to fill out my days and nights, but even then, I probably would have traded in those books for more activity.

By the time I got to college, I was accustomed to “wasting” large amounts of time by doing nothing or by playing games, watching TV and listening to music.  I had never been anyplace where there had been clubs and activities to join other than the band, choir and MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) of my junior high and high school years.  I don’t know if it was lack of confidence or lack of interest that kept me from joining activities in college where I would have met more people, but I am quite sure that I had a small town inferiority complex that made me think people would probably not want to meet me.

Although in the dorm and around female friends I was outgoing and a leader of sorts, at mixers with fraternities, I was shy and held back.  I didn’t go to the student union much–preferring the smoking room at our sorority house, playing bridge with the hashers and watching soap operas with the Lenzi twins–my partners in prevarication.  Somehow I fell back on the lazy habits of my youth, even though I was now in an environment that provided more stimulating possibilities.

I see this tendency spreading like a stain throughout my life.  Yes, I traveled all over the world, but once there, in an exotic or  unfamiliar place, I didn’t necessarily make use of all the possibilities for socialization or discovery.  Once again I fell back on nights spent alone, reading or puttering around the house.  It wasn’t that I didn’t meet people and make friends.  I gave dinner parties and big parties and went to the houses of friends.  It was just that I also held back.  Pulled out by friends, I would go, but if I had to make the decision myself, I would stay home.

Now that I am in my retirement years, I still feel this pull and push of life.  If someone asks me to do anything, I do it.  I have had a few big parties but in recent years I prefer dinner with one to four friends.  The vast majority of my time, however, is spent alone, even though I know I could be busy every minute of the day with one or another social activity.  I fill out my days with writing or, in month or two-month spurts, working in my art studio.  I belong to three writing groups, two of which I go to regularly.  The reading series I coordinated, I let die a natural death when the coffee house where we met closed.  Others have urged me to resuscitate it, but i haven’t.

The reason I know I would probably not change my college habits even though I now know I should have been more active is because now that I am in possession of this knowledge, I still choose not to change.  I am a social person who has an even bigger need for privacy and alone time, but now it is because I have two worthwhile activities with which to fill that alone time. Whether there is much value in what I produce is a moot point.  I think we create in order to recreate our selves, in a way.  It is a place where we have a power we grant to ourselves and perhaps in a way this is a success which, although unheralded by the world, creates a smaller world of our own where we can become whatever we want to be.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Revisionist History. Go back in time to an event you think could have played out differently for you. Let alternate history have its moment: tell us what could, would or should have happened?

Near

Near

My father went from obscurity to a sort of small renown.
He worked hard as a rancher and the mayor of our town.
He met my mother at a dance in her sister’s borrowed gown–
both of them lonely visitors to a faraway strange town.
I’ve thought about it often since we laid him down.
Why didn’t I ask more questions? Why didn’t I write it down?

Many a calf he helped to birth and many a field he’s mown.
Avoided his mother if he could–long-suffering aged crone.
Not many highways traveled,nor many airwaves flown.
He died in his angry daughter’s arms–the two of them alone.
I’ve thought of it often till regrets have turned into a drone.

His eyes were always looking further over yon.
Over a ripening field of wheat or over a fresh-mowed lawn.
Working, often, until dark and up again at dawn.
A man of camaraderie and wit and brains and brawn.

He liked to tell a story and sing a rousing tune.
Stand on the porch at midnight to piss under the moon.
He gave me a turquoise ring, a baby rabbit and a coon.

Now that he’s very gone away.  Now that I’m very grown,
I know my flesh is of his flesh. My bone is of his bone.

And I wish that I’d asked more questions. That we’d both been less alone.

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The form of this poem is one consisting of six stanzas, the first with 6 lines and each thereafter one less line.  Each line in each stanza rhymes with all the other lines in that stanza and each stanza’s rhyme is a near rhyme to the last. The name of this form is Sylvestrian Near Rhyme and since “Near” describes both the theme and form of my poem, it is also the name of the poem.  And yes, I did make up the form!  I’d love it if poets given to rhyming and meter would attempt the form and send me the results as comments or a link to this blog.

Update: Here is Sam Rappaz’s response to my challenge.

The Prompt: Fireside Chat—What person whom you don’t know very well in real life — it could be a blogger whose writing you enjoy, a friend you just recently made, etc. — would you like to have over for a long chat in which they tell you their life story?