Tuesday, 3 November 2020

The fragrant ground and I

If you want to live happily ever after - and whatever place or realm (on or off earth) you finally (or not so finally) end up in, presumably you do want that - it is a good idea to stop at times, turn around and take in the view presented by your life thus far.

I bet you it's an amazing landscape, which you may be glad not to have to traipse through again, but which you're justifiably really proud of having got through. I mean: look at those cliffs of conflict between yourself and others; curious wetlands, alternating with high-lying plateaux, of love, relationships and friendships; deserts and forests you survived of classes, courses, exams, jobs, all kinds of duties; rapids of ill-health; oceans of grief; lakes and waterfalls of indolence and fun; fruiting orchards of joy ...

If you keep looking, you'll be bragging before long about all your adventures and tests of endurance and how often you definitely had enough, but, somehow, here you still are. So claim your title: top topographer, flagbearer, first explorer! Which you are: since none of us have ANY competition when it comes to our own life paths. We're once-offs, forever.

Each month I create a new cover for my Facebook Page, Give Your Writing The Edge, whereby I aim to project a concern or feel for the weeks ahead. Often, I allow my choice to be intuitive, but this month, both the picture as well as the poetry were a leap into the unknown as never before. I chose two poems, separated by more than 35 years (which is currently 63% of my life) - poems, which speak mysteries to one another.

I authored it, and can recite it on the spot, but I have never understood the first poem, Dog. However, a dear old friend, who has always favoured it, reminded me of it recently. Not only did that inspire the second poem, but also a new curiosity: what on earth (on earth indeed) was the language doing with me? 

I aproach the poem like any reader, tip-toeing carefully towards possible meanings. 

The houndedness of the faceless, fallen rose connects it, of course, to the dog - who doesn't even dig, so opposed is it: it "nibbles (nibbles!) own spaces in the ground" where nothing is wanted. The scene is tragic, a picture of perfect disempowerment, an apparently necessary secreting away of natural is-ness. The treasured symbol of love is nothing but an old bone.

The second poem launches on that connection between the rose and the bone and it turns out that not only has the flower survived, but it has multiplied subterraneously over three and a half decades. 

"in the ground" becomes, in Dog 2, 'under the skin', deep inside the tissues: the identification of rose and bone has built a structure, which not only has an I, but an unopposed, fearless, fragrant (!) inner body that can speak and declare its old ("after all these years") aliveness.

Whence comes this sudden up out of the adult marrow?

Certainly the identification between the "ground" (where roses and bones are buried) and the "I" (where years and sorrow have been buried) is a powerful place to begin. And end.

Photo: Detail from a picture I took of my potted peace rose. 









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