Saturday, March 17, 2018

By Heart

People often are impressed by those of us who memorize poems for salons or events like Rumi's Caravan.  I tell them, "It's a muscle.  You have to exercise it."  Why bother, though?  I can only say that poems you really love, that you bother to commit to memory, have an effect on you.  They work on you in mysterious ways.  For instance, I've been living with Theodore Roethke's "In a Dark Time" for going on two years now.  I can't explain it; it's mysterious.  But really worth the effort.  Plus, with oral traditions salons, we feel we are restoring soul to this very needy world.  Certainly, poetry writing and reading have their places, but poems told by heart are another thing altogether.  Come to a salon and you'll feel the difference.

One night, I got some lines for a poem, about poems, in a dream.  They disappeared in the morning, but the ideas behind them stuck.  So, I wrote a poem.  I don't know if this is one I'll learn by heart, but maybe it will give you a sense of what that is like.  (As always, this poem is fresh and mostly unedited, so please forgive any chunkiness.)

By Heart

The poem is not your friend.
The poem is a pest. 
It gets under your skin and
nestles down inside you.
You would like it to go to sleep,
give you a break,
but the poem tosses and turns,
throwing off its blankets to expose
this line or that.

The poem does not care about you.
It is looking for a home,
and when it finds one in you,
it will move in for good, or at least
for a long stay.
If you ignore it, the poem will pout
and keep tapping you on the shoulder.
The poem will tell you,
“Here.  I belong to you.”

The poem doesn’t care who wrote it,
only who gives it residence.  
The poem will 
pick at your scabs, 
make you cry,
yell in your face.
Then it will pat your back and say,
“There, there.”

As long as the poem includes
one line of mystery, it will continue to
niggle at your thoughts,
tug at your heart,
poke you in the gut.

But although it isn’t your friend,
the poem will be
your companion.
It will move you,
agree with your deepest thoughts,
tell you if you are on track.
Even if you forget one of its lines,
the poem will reveal the lesson
in that omission.
The poem will be 
your teacher.
And you will love it.

One of my SoulCollage® cards

P.S. I will be doing a Persephone Rising SoulCollage® event on April 8th.  Email me if interested.

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