Thursday, July 19, 2012


One of Emily Dickinson’s poems begins

A great Hope fell
You heard no noise
The Ruin was within
Oh cunning wreck that told no tale
And let no Witness in

but in my case you do hear noise:

 1. I go over to my parents’ house and tell them about it, so
2. I let a Witness in
3. (this afternoon by reading them a different Emily Dickinson poem, and my commentary on it*)
4.  and then I go home and put on the Paula Cole CD Courage

Then (or during) I laugh and drink wine. And fix dinner. (Which cannot be fixed without music and wine. But that’s another story.)

So, yes, a great hope fell, recently, but one I will survive, as I have survived many others, and I will laugh, drink wine, and be glad I have parents, friends, a husband, kids, and other fine Witnesses! (Though I am telling no tales!)

I’ve mentioned Paula Cole here before, and the wonderful Courage album, picked up, used, at a sidewalk sale, for $5 at exactly the right moment. Hm, why does that moment keep recurring?!

Really, this album always consoles me and keeps me going, restores my courage. I love her honesty and vulnerability:

And I’ve forgotten who I used to be.
And I’ve forgotten the woman in red, living her dream.
And I’ve forgotten the courage I used to be.

Then there’s a refrain of repetition that is best heard sung:  “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, And I try, and I try, and I try, and I try, and I try….”

I love, love, love her courage and conviction, in the first song on the album, “Comin’ Down,” saying, “I’ll shoulder the weight,

Of feeling emotions in a deeper shade
I’ll be the one who puts them to song
And liberate the heartache comin’ down.

So, I was reading to my parents about “trembling on the brink of the abyss without falling in” while trembling on the brink of the abyss without falling in.

Which, you know, ultimately, is funny!

Or, as Paula Cole would (and did) say,

So please forgive me all my seriousness,
My so-called spirituality,
I’m just a mess.
I’m tears and anxiety,
But I’m unafraid to See.

And I did not fall off the brink, either.  And was able to comfort a few poets, later, on Facebook.  (Sigh…)  And was given, earlier today, by a dear heart, Ginny, The Book of Men, by Dorianne Laux, because I told her I was lusting after it, and she completely understood! (It has a hilarious cover, and beautiful interior!)

*as, wooee, one of “today’s finest poets,” wooee (did I say, “Wooee!”?), according to Richard Jones in Poetry East, #74 & 75, Spring 2012: Great Poems

Please forgive me my moments of self-congratulation. It helps me not fall off the brink. Into a pool of wine. (Or into a pool of whine.)


seana said...

I think one of the best things about growing older is that you can often (though not always)see the brink, while at the same time seeing that there is a whole lot else going on as well.

I was fit to be tied when I left work one afternoon recently, but as I came out of the building I saw a woman and a little tiny girl, and realized that I knew them. I hadn't seen the little tiny girl for awhile so didn't expect her to recognize me, but when I walked up to them, she turned and gave me this big smile and immediately included me in their games. It wasn't that it was me, it was the kind of smile she would have turned on any stranger to say "I'm so glad you're here." Dissolved a lot of anger on the spot, let me tell you.

I am grateful for Emily Dickinson's poetry, but I do wish she had had a few more fine witnesses in her own life.

Kathleen said...

Thank you for your thoughts and this fine story!

Collagemama said...

Should you fall off the brink keep your camera handy for those studly rescuers.

Kathleen said...

Excellent thought! AND the fire station is 2 blocks away!

Bethany Reid said...

I loved this post -- I'm a huge Dickinson fan and becoming quite a fan of yours, as well. I went straight to Poetry East and ordered a copy. Thank you!

Kathleen said...

Oh, Bethany, thank you, and I am delighted. I was taking my folks an extra copy of the journal--though my mom will also receive a subscriber copy--and my dad jumped right into it. "This is a great issue!" he said, seeing all the GREAT POEMS in it, and the commentaries by contemporary poets who love these particular poems for particular reasons! So this is now my dad's personal copy.

Cathy said...

Oh dear, now I'm tempted to write a terrible poem about Emily Dickinson and some Jehovah's Witnesses…

You have such a beautiful life. Your way of making dinner makes me smile.

Pearl said...

hope today's a good one.