Monday, August 30, 2010

Porcelain Love

As a young girl, I had many dolls that were made up of different things... cloth, plastic, vinyl, porcelain... I loved them all. Even my porcelain dolls who always seemed so indifferent. When I held them close, their skin was so cool against mine.
No matter how many childish kisses and caresses I lavished upon them, they never warmed up. A blank, glassy stare would be the only reward for my efforts.

O, you, my love, must be made of porcelain!
It is so clear to me now...
This is why you never let your emotions show; why you never seem to really see me...

I never stopped loving my porcelain dolls, in hopes that someday they might respond to my gentle touch.
Just know, I shall do the same for you, my darling, porcelain love.
Someday your hard exterior will crack and I know a responsive human flesh must lie underneath.
Maybe then, you will love me back?

{Picture by me, of me and one of my porcelain dolls, Emily.}

Monday, August 23, 2010

I am a writer... and I can't help it.

I was reading quotes on some random quote site the other week, and I ran across this quote by Rainer Maria Rilke:
"Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write."

I didn't really think much about it after reading it, I just moved on. But later, I was thinking... would I die if I were forbidden to write? To be sure, dying seems, well, melodramatic... Yet, I somehow feel if I could never write another word of my dreams, fancies and stories - something in me would die.
No more would I run on a mad dash to find a pencil and paper when I need to capture a thought or a phrase.
No more would I stay up late poring over the thesaurus looking for the right word to use.
No more would I get out of bed in the middle of the night and scribble an idea down by the dim light of my ipod.
No more would I get that feeling of absolute content after finishing writing something that I think is good.
My life would be almost pleasure-less!

Thankfully, I do not think there is anyone who is going to forbid me to write, so - write I will!
And so, even on those days when I am in despair, feeling as if everything I write is inane and I will never be any good, I remember... I have to write. Even if nothing ever comes of it. It has spread its roots into the very depth of my heart.

But you don't know what's ahead of you--the stony hills--the steep ascents--the buffets--the discouragements. Stay in the valley if you're wise. Emily, why do you want to write? Give me your reason."
"I want to be famous and rich," said Emily coolly.
"Everybody does. Is that all?"
"No. I just love to write."
"A better reason--but not enough--not enough. Tell me this--if you knew you would be poor as a church mouse all your life--if you knew you'd never have a line published--would you still go on writing--would you?"
"Of course I would," said Emily disdainfully. "Why, I have to write--I can't help it at times--I've just got to."
"Oh--then I'd waste my breath giving advice at all. If it's in you to climb you must--there are those who must lift their eyes to the hills--they can't breathe properly in the valleys. God help them if there's some weakness in them that prevents their climbing. You don't understand a word I'm saying--yet. But go on--climb!

-Excerpt from Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery

{Picture taken by me.}

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Old Man

“My eyes are lonely,” the old man said,
“They have no one to wink at.”
I looked at him and his wrinkled face held more beauty than my own.
His hand was cold, his lips were dry
He didn’t shed a tear.

The stories he told the children who once revered him as hero
are now laughed at by the same children, who think they have grown up.

“Smile lass, for me, one more time. The tide is going out.”
Reassuringly, I squeezed his hand,
though I was not sure I’d be able to do it…
But somehow I managed one smile;
My last one for the day.
It was shaky and watery, but still a smile.
He smiled back and closed his eyes.

I sat and listened to his rasping breath,
feeling futile, so very helpless.
Just watching and waiting for the sad, but natural, inevitable.
All, the sudden, his still-bright eyes were open,
looking into mine.
“Having you here is all I need, lass.”
He said, simply and then slowly closed his eyes.

(How had he always understood me so well?)

A few more raspy breaths…

For an hour more, I held his hand
Not wanting to let him go
Just gazing, for the last time, upon his wrinkled face,
Wistfully imagining he looked content.
Already I missed the funny, gruff way he had of expressing his emotions…
And I thought about how much he meant to me –
The old man, who was no relation,
but was more near to me than any flesh and blood could ever be.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'll be fine.

I cried bitter, self-centered tears because I didn't posses the entrancing ability to write beautifully incomparable things.
I cried pathetic tears because I couldn't find another soul like mine to be my friend.
But at least I have you!

I just wish the selfish thoughts would go away...

{I want you to myself, I don't want to share you with a crowd of admirers so thick they can't be parted.
I don't care if you are more beautiful and talented than I! For then, I can feel pride that you are my friend when others praise you.}

Just know, I'll keep trying to craft delicate missives to send to you.
Though you and the gleaming, spellbinding words that pour out of you could do it better...
I'm trying to be strong and protect you. Your whimsical heart, which deeply feels mysteries others wish to know, has been wounded with harsh realities of a place you've never been.
These wounds run deep. So deep that you and your poet's soul have been fumbling in a darkness that quietly smothers dreams.
And I can only hold your hand and look into your wailing eyes and think, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
But I am certain you will recover, for you were woven with strong fibres. It would take more than this pain to break you.

Me and my cynical soul sit with you as my insecurities cruelly weigh on my mind, leaving deep furrows on my brow.

I don't think I deserve the trusting adoration you give me.
I'm not really worthy of your admiration...
I wish I could be the wonderful person you say I am.

{Photo by: Tony Bonacci. Photo of: Azure Ray.}

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Insatiable Sea

{This is a short story I wrote a couple of months ago. I have never really written anything like this before. I would like to think it is good, but I highly doubt it is.}

I don’t know how long I stood there gazing out into the cold, uncaring sea. A bitter taste lingered in the air and in my mouth. The wind roughly pulled my hair & skirts about. I was frozen to the bone. To the heart as well. I didn’t think I could ever move from that spot again. I would just stand there forever - too stiff to feel.
I wanted to throw myself into the ocean, that insatiable monster.
“Take me as well! How many do you need until you’re appeased?” My mind was screaming… but I couldn’t make my mouth from the words.
I wondered how long I could gaze upon this thing I‘m so afraid of. I felt I could brazenly face the most terrible of monsters or disasters… but I always felt a gnawing fear when near this smothering expanse of water. Always I had feared the worst. And now…. It had come….
I closed my eyes trying to shut out everything.
I inwardly jumped and opened my eyes, slowly turning towards the tentative voice. I stared at the man who stood there in nervous expectancy. I didn’t care what he had to say. It wouldn’t change anything.“Er, th-they have everything ready,” he stuttered. I read sympathy on his face but I didn’t want his, or anyone’s, sympathy.
We slowly walked down the hill; away from my overlook and away from the sea. But my sadness followed us down. We approached the crowd of silent men, weeping women and children. I knew they felt the same pain as I but, I bitterly reflected, I had no baby to hold to my breast, no child clinging to my skirts giving me a purpose for my future.
Sheets hid the recovered bodies. The sea, though she took the life from these men, couldn’t keep what remained. Not a fair trade, but the sea has never been just.
I heard myself speaking, “I want to see his body.”The men who stood nearby exchanged glances, all of them avoided meeting my gaze.
One uneasily cleared his throat. “Are you sure?” he ventured.
I lifted my head higher. “Yes. I am sure.”
The man reluctantly went to one of the covered bodies and pulled away the sheet. No one wanted to watch, they all turned away. The man respectfully left me alone.
I knelt down and stared into the face of my husband. He was so pale, so cold. This couldn’t be my husband. My husband was always so warm, so full of joy. I remembered how gaily he had sung his favourite, rowdy sea songs while whirling me around in a breathless, happy dance. We would always end up collapsing, doubled over with laughter.
When I was sad, he would tenderly wipe away my tears. His fingers were rough from his life at sea, but they could be so gentle. He never failed to make me feel better. Even my fear of the sea seemed silly when he was near me. Whenever he left on voyages, I was never completely happy until he was home with me, safe. Brutally, the thought occurred to me that nevermore would I have to worry about him…
Then, I could no longer hold back the tears, I started to cry. Not the loud sobs of the other women, but a silent flow of sorrow. Each tear that fell hurt like a dagger in my heart.
Accursed sea! Insatiable horror! You had no right to him. He was mine.
I softly brushed his cheek with a finger. “You were mine,” I whispered, hardly realizing what I was saying. Forlornly, I knelt there for a while till, with blurred vision, I moved the sheet back over him.
Rising, I heard murmurs of conversation. Plans for “cremation… the scattering of ashes in the sea. Seems natural… these men were some of the greatest sailors in the world....”
An iron hand seemed to clutch my throat in a tight hold.
“No,” I said. My voice sounded harsh. “I will have a proper burial for my husband.
"Knowing my wish would be obeyed, I felt I had no reason to stay longer. I swept away leaving all looking after me, pitying me, I was sure.
Quickly, I walked to the house that had been our home . My sadness still pursued me. I fumed to myself. “Scattering my husband’s ashes in the ocean, my enemy, would be like surrendering to her cruel ways – telling her she had won.”
“No,” I thought, “I must bury him as far from the ocean as I can. Somewhere where I can visit… because even though he is gone, he is still mine.” I felt almost defiant towards the sea. “He is still mineand he will be forever.”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

'I am Christina Rossetti.'

I am back from vacation! I had a lovely time, reading, writing, canoeing, wading, walking, admiring nature, and braving no air-conditioning. ;)

Anyhow, as you should know from my last post, I brought some books of poetry along with me. One of these was The Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti {Only Volume I, as I found out later!} I had never read much, if any, Christina Rossetti but now I would consider her as being one of my favourite poets.
My interest in Christina Rossetti was aroused after a recent re-reading of one of my favourite books: The Tattooed Potato and other clues by Ellen Raskin. This humorous book is about a girl named Dickory Dock who becomes the apprentice to a mysterious, eccentric painter named Garson.
In this excerpt, Dickory is upset because of her ridiculous name and Garson tells her an interesting story about Christina Rossetti.

"You know, Chief Quinn was right about {your name} being a happy name. Besides, a name is just a label; it can stand for whatever a person makes of it." He left off painting to look at his sulking apprentice. "Have you ever heard of Christina Rossetti?"
"No, and that's not a funny name or a happy name." Dickory was screwing and unscrewing the same cap on the same tube of paint.
"I'm talking about names being symbols for who and what you are," Garson said, returning to his canvas. "Christina Rossetti was a poet, a wonderful poet. She was also a bit loony, but that's not the point."
Dickory set down the paint tube and listened.
"Christina Rossetti was a shy, very shy creature, who had difficulty speaking to anyone but her family and a few intimate friends. Well, one evening, somehow or other, she found herself at a party. No one noticed her: small, retiring, dressed in black, she sat like a shadow against the wall while the fashionable people flirted, and flaunted their ignorance, and chattered their silly chatter. Then the subject turned to poetry. You can imagine what was said: 'No one had time to read poetry anymore,' or 'All the good poets are dead,' or 'I don't know much about poetry, but I know what I like." Whatever was said was shallow and stupid, so shallow and stupid that our timid poet stood up and walked to the center of the room. Suddenly all was quiet. All eyes were on this small nervous woman in dull black. Can you guess what she said, Dickory?"
"Head held high, she stood tall as she could in the middle of those frightening people and said:
'I am Christina Rossetti.' Then she turned and sat down.
"That's all?"

"That's everything. 'I am Christina Rossetti,' she said, which meant: 'I am a poet, a very good poet.' Those in the room who recognized her name realized they had been speaking rubbish; and those who did not understand were silenced by their ignorance. 'I am Christina Rossetti' was all she need have said. Do you understand what I'm saying, Dickory Dock? Worry less about your name, and more about who you are and who you want to be, and what Dickory Dock will stand for."

And that is what got me interested in Christina Rossetti. For some reason, I love that story. {Also Garson gave an excellent piece of advice, I think.}

{Christina Rossetti as painted by her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti.}

Do you have any favourite poets?