Who you are

Oh dear dear dear ones. I missed posting last week entirely. It was a busy time. There was that incredible performance and the aftermath, and there was  an important sad-anniversary for me. Now I am sitting at the airport, about to get on a plane and fly across the world. Away from my children, and my sweet nest of a home, and most of my responsibilities. Being in the airport by myself is a strange sort of homecoming for me, I spent a fair amount of time traveling alone as a teenager. When I was a teenager I felt so grown up traveling by myself. As an adult, I feel so untethered and teenager traveling this way. Me and my slightly overweight bags of books, my headphones and laptop, my anonymity. No one’s looking at me. No one here will see me again.

Some of the geniuses I went to grad school with put together a literary journal, and it’s full of brilliance. It contains two pieces by Arriane Zwartjes (who you may have heard tell of when I wrote about her book Detailing Trauma here). You can read the whole lovely thing by her by clicking on the title.

One Hyperbole, One Sin by Arianne Zwartjes

There was a trigger, there is always a trigger. A sin of sorts. A moment when who you thought you were and who you were, in that moment of being, ceased to line up. Ceased to be the same person, identical reflections in a mirror of self.

I love witnessing transformation. My own and others’–it’s a testament to the capacity of the human heart and mind. Usually our changes come in small measures, with these occasional big flashes, these big moments that show us who we really are. I think this last week was that for a lot of people. An “Oh shit–I’m capable of that.” How cool to see it. I am constantly surprised and amazed. I am often moved to tears by it. I can hold my face and heart steady when hard things are shared. But when I’m moved by beauty, the tears spring forth. It’s not a bad problem to have. It happened today in one of my writing groups, and it was received with the same sort of love that I (hope I) give by the people I give it to. What absolute extraordinary simple blessing, to give and receive love in equal measure this way.

I am fairly certain I’ve used Adrienne Rich’s poem “Dedication” here before, but earlier this week my friend and colleague Maggie showed me this video of her reading it–and I used it in some groups. Have a listen. How it’s as though she’s flipping through an album of snapshots. The specificity, the movement.

Write “I know you are reading this poem…” try to think a little about Zwartjes’ trigger moment from the quote above. Those darkest nights, or bright moments of clarity and conscience, when what you thought you wanted revealed itself as faintly ridiculous. Those turning points. Include one from last week, and one from ten years from now (oof, I know–at least try).

Here’s the one and only Adrienne Rich. Twenty minutes, loves. I am getting on this plane. I am going to see my mother. I am stopping in Turkey. When I land, I hope to have at least one poem in my inbox. You have 8 hours, people.


2 thoughts on “Who you are

  1. Sean Miller

    I know YOU are reading this poem in a box
    With a non-descript marker indicating
    Here lies an unknown and forgotten warrior
    I know it is REALLY NOT you reading this poem
    For you are lifeless – dead
    You are not capable of reading this poem because your life, when you had life
    Was full of “I knows” and contempt for help
    Toxic was your pride
    Therefore, someone else, whom you know not, is reading this poem
    Wondering what a life you had
    What experiences you shared
    What deeds you accomplished
    What feats you fought for
    Yet, they will never know your story because your pride and ignorance cut your life too short
    Now you are lying lifeless in a box, in the ground, with a non-descript marker
    Attempting to tell your story, but it cannot
    Because here lies NO ONE
    I know you ARE reading this poem
    Because like Cyprus Hill said,
    “I ain’t going out like that.”

    • seemareza

      I love this piece, Sean! Thanks for sharing it here.

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