Friday, 7 June 2019

Out of the crucible of pain

Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso
There is perhaps nothing on earth more compelling, impermanent, nor more faithful, than pain.
Pain is your most jealous lover.
He wants ALL your attention. He wants your eyes on nothing and no one but himself.
You are mesmerised into your weakest aspects by pain.
This imprisonment applies to all parts of our incarnated self: whether the pain inhabits your body, heart, mind or soul, his power is the same.

It takes great equanimity and faith to slip your nearly suffocated flame out and away from the arms of Pain.
You see yourself embraced by and embracing him.
Your detachment offers opportunity.

"Pain," you say, "What do you want from me?"
"Ah," he replies, "I want you to FEEL me."

So you feel him. You feel his neediness of your anguish and agony, how hungrily he devours the time you give him.
You begin to realise that you are feeding him.
Like a vulture, he is gorging himself on the carcass of what is already past in you.
You feel him sating himself.

The more he eats, the brighter your flame burns.
"You are looking beautiful!" people exclaim.
They like the radiance of your suffering, your brave patience.

Gradually, your unwanted lover quietens and drowses to sleep.
You are exhausted, but free.
You are light and new and can combine a limp, spent body-mind-soul with your flame again.
You are fragile, but you are also energised and newly whole.

Ascension depends on crucifixion, but your flame keeps its joy quiet.

Until, at length, it flickers and sways and fetches fresh oxygen to bring the world your eternal smile: an alchemy out of the crucible of pain.

- Silke Heiss, 7th June 2019

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

My tortoise journey with poems

The adventure with my book continues. Flow (Poetree Publications) is busy proofreading it and Mike (Max Design) is working on a cover, a draft of which a few of my private readers have already shown thumbs-ups to: thank you.

Books are written, printed, published, launched, marketed, sold and, alas, pulped every day. Millions upon millions of them. Written, printed, published, launched, etc.etc.etc.

Only one of those millions upon millions is my book.

Only one.

At last.

Certainly no one can accuse me of speeding.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Alive and beautiful: Table Love now

"I effectively have std.8," he says, explaining, "I did std. 9 and 10 in one year, but it was a kind of a jippo matric. But it made me strong. I learned to stand on my own feet."
They're sitting on a bench in the winter sun shining its warmth equitably on them both.
"Well, I've two Masters degrees," she replies, "one of them with distinction, and - as precious as what they taught me is - I've never kept within the academy what I learned. University was never the place for me, I was never at home there. Even now I'm still muddling my way through life against all expectations. Formal education doesn't necessarily teach you how to survive."
"When I had my company," he says, "people with high education sometimes spoke to me, terrified of starting their own business. I used to say to them they should look around. How many people have they seen with their own eyes? Millions. How many of those people did they actually see dying or dead from starvation? None. I've never seen one. So start your own business, have the courage to do so. Do what you have passion for."
She takes out her notebook and pen. Sitting beside him, she is not with him, but with the bird of prey perched a little way from them, and the wintry horizon.
"You're so impatient!" she exclaims at one point, ducking the poem she is slowly composing away from his inquisitive eye.
Finally she is done.
"I've got my poem in my head," he says eagerly, "but I don't have a pen and paper."
"My book is full," she retorts, "and I didn't bring a new one."
He takes and opens her book on the back cover.
"There's a space," he says, and thinks, and speaks, and she writes down his words.
When he is done, he says,
"Let's hear yours now?"
She reads aloud the lines jostled by crossings out, arrows, insertions, revisions.
"That's awesome," he observes. "Same bird, same place and time, but completely different views."
"Yes," she agrees, "My father sometimes said what makes us all equal is our capacity to do harm, but it's the differences between us that make the world alive and beautiful." 

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Time as an organic fact

One of the 'bibles' that has guided my life is the children's book, Momo (pronounced 'Mawmaw') by Michael Ende. The book is essentially a narrative about the treasure of time. The main character is an orphan girl called Momo. She is shown the origin of time in the form of 'hour-flowers'. These are literally blooms of hours that break from bud to full unfolding and, necessarily, wilting at the end of each precious hour.

Each person is allotted a specific number of hour-flowers in their lifetime. It is as momentous a concept as it is simple, shaping time as a friend, rather than a foe; as an organic fact, rather than a random invention.

To feel time as a natural sequence of moments blossoming their opportunities takes me to the freedom of an infant basking starry-eyed in a kind of milk of existence: the nourishment of life itself being nothing other than time - the hours we are given to build our selves towards as complete an end as we can.

Cover of the K.Thienemanns Verlag 1st edition, Stuttgart, 1973, by Gustav Reisacher

Thursday, 9 May 2019

The secret of the writerly gift

The secret of the writerly gift is the ongoing inner alivenesses - your responsiveness to what comes at you from the external world, and your particular ability to calibrate this with your inner world. That dynamic constitutes the adventure of your heart and soul as they are embodied, briefly, in the span that makes up your life. In essence, your gift is the ability to ride the scythe of death - each living, passing moment is marked, memorialised in words strewn about it like flowers upon a fresh grave.

- Hogsback, 4th May 2019

Friday, 3 May 2019

Some kind of happiness

Silence is the place where new becomings are rooted. A child is conceived in the flame of love, but his shaping happens in the dark waters of the womb; as, too, a seed opens its future unseen. All things start in secret, before they try the light.

So this blog has been a time of quiet, full of the rich unknown. Surprises and beckonings pull me into people I've not been.

This site asks me to re-invent it, or myself, out of the quiet. For my footsteps pad slowly, but surely, guided by the sacred dark, leading into ... not quite your 'aha' ... but still: a sense of some kind of happiness in you that this can be possible: the light.

Soft and gentle yet; not bright.

Last night, walking down the dark, dark driveway with my lantern to meet friends - a milling of fireflies. Traffic of gold and silver flightpaths - bobbing, zooming in and out beside my body. Little creatures looking for each other by life's signature of beauty.

Love seeks us out in the differences.

- Silke Heiss, 3rd May 2019

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Fireside talk: a beautiful new world

Relaxing by the hearth before a lovely blaze, my friend says, 
"If you say you have a book of poems I must read, I'll tell you straight away that I won't. I mean, why should I?"
"Well," I reply, "my book tells a story in poems. It's a story of love and death."
Now he looks interested.
"It's about losing," I continue, "the person dearest to you and the way grief takes you on an adventure of becoming a whole new self."
"Ok," he nods, "that's something I can relate to easier than just a bunch of poems - because now it's got real meaning."
"The book has eight parts," I tell him. "The first part is the story of Norman's and my love, our closeness. But he was sick from when we first met - I never knew him not sick. So I've chosen poems that show my awareness that I might lose him. And how Love said: don't worry - sickness and death don't frighten me.

"Then the second part is the crisis of Norman's last months, his physical deterioration, our ups and downs, wild hopes for miracles, despairs, and ultimately the healing of soul, which death wants, before it can happen.
"The third part is the time that immediately followed his death. Where his voice still rang as if from his actual voice box - loud and strong and clear. And my vulnerability - as if I too was newly disembodied in the ether with him. I've been told that's like when the Xhosa people put white on their faces.
"The fourth part - now I'm having to start dealing with worldly stuff - the estate, and so on. But it's a psychically treacherous balancing act all widowed or bereaved people would know.
"The fifth part - now I'm getting on, a bit better with everything, but I don't recognise myself. I'm changed. The dead are with me. Not just Norman. My world and their world overlap. My sense of time is far more fluid.
"Then I have a kind of breakdown. It felt at the time like a shamanic initiation. Many spirits visited the house. I went through pantomimes of experience. Sometimes it felt as if I were walking through the stars. That's the story the poems share in the sixth part.
"The seventh part is specifically about embodied love. When the body of your beloved disappears, it's such a massive physical loss, massive. Because the soul IS the body, in each incarnation. I was content to mummify my heart: I had had the ultimate and wanted no other. But God had other plans for me. Love continued to flow into my life, making sure my heart would stay open, vulnerable, alive. So, new love poems appeared to testify to these greenings even on the ashes of my husband. Those poems make up the seventh part.
"And then, the eighth and final part is my ultimate tribute to Norman: I, who have only ever been the poet's wife, rather than a poet in my own right, am led by the creative process of grieving into a new becoming. I see the facts of my blood are the facts of Norman's blood - we are poets and I can and must stand now on the strength of all I've suffered and learned.
"That's the story of Greater Matter: A Journey of Poems to Death and Beyond."
"This is awesome," says my friend, "because the poems will make more sense to me now when I read the book, and there must be other people out there, that will relate to these different stages that you've gone through, and appreciate the poems."
" I hope so. Because the poems tell the story of a soul-journey, and also how death doesn't part you from a loved one, it expands you."
"Gosh, looking at poetry for the first time in my life has really opened up a beautiful new world for me, and I've even now started writing my own poems."