Monday, 21 January 2019

Blunder, a lovely paradox, and 'A Wife's Entreaty'

My apologies to all who may have been inconvenienced by last night's post - 'Caution: Poet at Play' - which I had to delete after discovering that I had no authority to use the accompanying picture.

The picture is the front cover of a book created privately 33-odd years back, and the reason I wished to share it was really to show how longstanding my writerly 'career' has been going on, on the quiet, really ... I would not know how to write if it weren't happening on the quiet.

For me, poetry and love have always gone together - both by definition occupy a quiet, private, special space.

The love books, which Norman and I produced, questioned that definition, you could say, in that the private poems shared in public began to function as reminders to others of their own quiet, loving spaces, as well as the fierce relationship-work, that is necessary, to achieve harmony. You could say that our sharing of our private, intimate experiences worked to spread the possibility of private, intimate experiences between others. A lovely paradox if ever there was.

So today I'll share an old love poem, written to my ex-husband, when I was still trying to salvage our marriage. I addressed him as the poet I/ we believed he was, asking, as so many women do, for open communication. It was not to be. Today I can say I am glad that I/we tried and also glad that I/ we failed. He is far happier not to be a poet.

The poem was published in Love Gyres, my first love poem reading with Norman, in February 2011, in Noordhoek, Cape Town.  

A Wife's Entreaty

I have to find you                                                         
Where we are together
is such a quiet place.                                                    
I mistrust you                                                               
in the world,                                                                
which I mistrust.                                                           
I fear your defeat,
and my loneliness.                                                        
Good cheer is a chore.                                                 
I miss my joy                                                               
in hiding, a quiet place.                                     
Secluded with you,                                                      
both of us.                                                                   
I am not sure
that facing life                                                               
means being visible.                                                     
If so, I need you
to lift my face for me,                                                   
to put the garlands
in my hair,
so that people can say,
‘She’s there.’

We do nothing
for ourselves.
We scoop the water of our knowledge
from our hearts
and baptise thus
each day.

Let us not be silent
with one another.
Let us protest, entwine,
and say:
‘The quiet place
is full of murmuring. Let us echo
its delicate decrees.’

Look: my lip, my ear.
Clay worked to completion.
Please seek to place
your lip against my ear,
to speak. Your ear
against my mouth,
to hear.
In the din
of this frightening world
it is those intimacies I desire.
You may still steel me
with a verbal smithy’s fire.
You know I have words, signs,
writing in my blood:
captains of so many
red and white boats.

Therefore I do require constant flood
of murmured love.

- From Love Gyres, Simonstown, 2011 

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