Thursday, July 22, 2010

i accept the silence

"Abstraction White Rose" by Georgia O'Keeffe

my dead grandmother
forever silent
and cold
and alone
but there are secrets to be shared
and confidences to be breeched
and promises to be broken
you come to me
you read me your letters
her letters
letters returned
and you tell me
your mother has a black heart
your eyes
glass filmed over
by gentle breaths in unforgiving cold
and glass
the wall that separates us
we can see
but not touch
we can look
eyes drifting
and our hands can reach out
for intimacies that can no longer be realized
your mother has always scorned affection
you say
and my heart wants to jump to my mother’s defense
maybe out of fear that she will hear
from her place so far away
this mute conversation
that gouges loyalty in the throat
i want to tell you about those times
my mother had looked at your black and white photo
hanging on her living room wall
and said she looked like the actress in that old movie
the white rose
but i recognize the past tense
and the word old
is a cloud over a full and beaming moon
i want to tell you my mother
has always been affectionate
but your daughter and my mother
though the same person in appearance
are two different women in essence
so i sit on my chair
in silence
and see you as if through a peeling mirror
the back of your china cabinet
where i looked at myself as a child
amidst the glimmer of french porcelain
and i counted my freckles as if they were coins
and i thought i could fly
and i remember running down the hill
outside your house
running breathless and effortless
the ground rising like slow motion
rising to meet me
my heart lifting
bloodless and fleshless
feeling like if i stepped into the air
i could fly
before doubt grabbed a hold of me
and wed me to the asphalt
you cleansed my face
of blood and shards of macadam
and your voice was gentle and steady
as you lulled me to sleep that night
and i sit with you now
and your hand is cold
and your face is ice
but even in death you are so beautiful
and tears stream from your eyes
and i try to tell your tears
i try to tell them you are not dead
but they quiet me and tell me about
tormented spirits and haunted souls
and glass
your body
and mirror
your soul
and you are here and you are not
light and weightless
like a shadow on a wall
and i want to say things
as if this moment does not know
the meaning of itself
as if to cover the silence
but the words shun my lips
so we sit still
with me
with you
and time accordions between us
and we accept the silence
and we close our eyes
and i see
your extinguishing presence
sharp as a pinprick to a blind woman’s finger
and there are yet gulfs to bridge
and labyrinths to unravel
but you speak
as you go
of the thirst of a mother
for her daughter’s love
and all of what you say
you say not with your lips
but with your eyes
and all of your words
i hear with my heart
because death and absence
are not an end
but an eternity
and so
i accept the silence


  1. Skeletons are rattling and how! In poetry, in verse, in lost hopes, in memories, in dreams and realities which are stifling.

    Nevine, reading this has left me bereft of something. Maybe a remainder of someone who is gone. Maybe my family. Maybe someone I used to know. You get what I mean.

    The deliriums are delirious.

    In the end there is joy so

    Joy always,

  2. Wow. A stunning piece, Nevine.

    Isn't it always the case that one needs distance to see clearly - mother and daughter too close to each other to properly see, yet a granddaughter can clearly see both?

    Well done - this will haunt me for a while.

  3. Dear Nevine,

    This read is way to personal to me, touched me deep as i not only feel all the lines you wrote but i live them daily, lost my mum last year and my brothers some years before so without getting into too much detail, i hope you understand what am trying to say just so i don't start crying on here :(

    Remember when you said we knew each other from another dimension? This is part of it going through the same pain of wanting something that is in the past, so close deep within yet so far and untouchable.

    Much Love~
    Wild Rose~

  4. this is fantastic , Nevine !!
    and very tender....
    i loved this.

    Nevine , i am with a new blog only about poems .
    if one day you visit it hope you enjoy:

  5. I love the poem title and final line, but what I really love about this is that it runs endlessly forward as though you aren't taking a breath, as though if you took a breath you'd run out of time to say what you wanted to say.
    Well done.

  6. This really struck a chord with me, Nevine. Since my grandmother's passing, I've discovered that I've inherited a good deal more from her, than from my own mother. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we share the most with those closest to us. Not always the case. though.

  7. What great words..Nevine! you managed to give life to the silence and death. And you just created and recalled the hidden memories inside you and inside all of us.
    Your last lines..."I hear with my heart..death and absence are not an end but an eternity..and so I ACCEPT the silence!!..mesmerizingly beautiful and optimistic! More than beautiful I'd say.
    Listen to the "silence" and accept it. Brilliant! Absolutely another gem!

    Love and hugs!~
    Betty xx

  8. I think these stories, silent as they might, remain in all of us women.
    Mine is such a long one...And just by looking at that black and white photo so much is said... But I needed to listen to the stories. I lived with both of them... a hell.
    Lots was said at the time. Now, needless to remember, in our memories it stays... In all of her granddaughters' memories it'll remain, for life, and even after the time being...

    Who i take after more? unfortunately my grand ma. She made sure to cast in me, the fright, the pain, the suffering the no right for women to be themselves... the fear to go out to the world, be free and enjoy the self, exactly what my mum, the rebel, does so very well, despite having her (or just because) as a mother...

    Great post, my dear friend, now you got this out of me into the world through your amazing blog.

    Lots of love!

  9. YOu have completely left me in awe.
    And made me speechless too!

  10. Nevine,
    I hope, sincerely hope, that one day, when you are world famous, when you are published in 35 languages and on 7 continents, when millions have read your volumes of collected works, when hundreds of thousands have sent you fan mail, and your Facebook page has a hundred thousand friends, when your book tours run on into months and your talk show appearances in the dozens, and after 14 months on the NYT best sellers list, and invitations to the White House, I hope after all of that and more, that we can still be friends.

    Yes, don't laugh, your writing is THAT good.


    PS And when that all comes to pass, and a by-product of it all is that you become as rich as Cresus, perhaps you would consider hiring me to be full time photographer to contribute illustrations for some of your works ?

    (ok, I'm a dreamer...)

  11. so much can be heaRD IN THE SILENCE IF WE BUT LISTEN.

    once again my friend your words prick my heart...

    hugs and smiles to u;)

  12. Oh my! Oh, my! Nevine, I do not know how to make you know how much I loved this piece of yours. A story--to me--not only of the lives of three, but a story of their souls.

    I read this, relished it, four--no, five times! I must get on with living, but to read your words, your thoughts--much more than musings--here, is for me, to put my daily life into a limbo, and read these like-mine-own reminiscences.

    I could take line-by-line, and for me there would be no other way, because line after line have such great meaning for me. "Your daughter, MY mother, are not the same"...Wow!

    "...and time accordions between us" OH! I must agree with Owen...except I may travel with your book tours and play soft violin in background as you sign away with ink-stained fingers, to millions, your love and appreciation for your own, your very own, creatings. How can we, any of us, or all of us, thank you, Nevine, surely our Queen?

  13. Susan – Skeletons do rattle in every family, and in every household, and underneath hushed breaths… oh how they do! And I do get what you mean, Susan. Speckles of spirits… that haunt… and that we can’t quite grasp… haunt forever. “The deliriums are delirious.” Oh, I do love that! Joy back to you a million fold.

    Lou – Yes, distance allows us to see what we otherwise are blind to… the distance opens up the experience for us… and we watch as if it is a horizon… that we can see boundlessly. I’m flattered my words will be haunting you, Lou… even if for only a while. :-)

  14. Wild Rose – I can’t tell you how sorry I am to hear of the loss of your mother and brothers. I do understand, and I do hope you did not go away from my place with tears in your eyes. I always think, though, that tears over the lost are manifestations of their spirits… their presence. Yes, I do believe in spirits… gently. I’d like to be modern and say that I don’t, but I believe people go to another place after they pass… and that sometimes they stop in and visit… here, where we are. There is comfort, yet, in that emptiness. My arms reach out to you in that empty space, and deliver warm hugs to you, sweet Wild Rose.

    Caio – Thank you. And I’ll be by to visit your new place soon…

    ConTemplate – Thank you much.

  15. Cosmoscami – Thank you for letting me know about the title/last line. I was hoping to create that breathless feeling… hoping to create that urgency to say the words before time runs out. I appreciate your thoughts.

    Martin – I agree entirely. It seems we’re programmed to search for traits from our direct parents, when sometimes we can find more in common with other relatives. I’ve found this to be true in more cases than not.

    Betty – “…you managed to give life to the silence and death.” That is so reassuring! It was not my goal for this to be a sad piece… but more of a “life does exist beyond death” expression. So, I am elated that you found it to be optimistic, because I have come to truly believe that, even in absence, relationships… and love… live on. Your thoughts have made my day, Betty. Big hugs back to you!

  16. Dulce – There seem to be endless conversations amongst women in families, no? I think I have the same situation… with my grandmother having been the meek and mild lady of her time… and my mother being the rebel. I’m not sure which one of the two I take after most… I think I’m still trying to figure that out, and I’m not sure I ever will. The journey to self-discovery… is endless. And lots of love back to you, Sweetest! ;-)

    Maha – Well, I’m quite awed by your sweet comment. Thank you, Maha.

  17. Owen – So, let us dream then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky… I do hope your dream for me comes true. I have to admit, Owen, that even my own dream for myself isn’t quite so lofty. So I am completely flattered that you should think so highly of me. And speaking of photographers, why would I consider hiring anyone but the man who knows how to snap the most awe-inspiring… and emotionally moving… shots in the whole wide world? We will be successful and famous together, then. No, I will never be that cad who pretends she did not know someone just because she thinks she’s made it big. At heart, I am a humble girl. But, Owen, I daresay you will make it to stardom before me. And, let’s see, if that is the case, and you become the rich one, will you consider hiring me to scribble some captions for your divine shots? ;-)

  18. Steven – Thank you, my very sweet friend. And hugs back!

    Steveroni – I can’t tell you how humbling your words are… Yes, they are so very uplifting and so very ego-pumping… but yet they are humbling, Steveroni. Your honesty truly shows through, and deep inside of me, in that very deep part of my heart that most people don’t get to see, I know that you always understand just what it is I am trying to say. So, then, how can I ever thank you for being the wonderful person that you are? Truly, I am honored to know you, Steveroni. And I can’t say that enough times. And boy would I be honored just to sit and listen to you play your violin, let alone to have you play it on my book tours. Thank you for your true friendship, Steve. :-)

  19. Nevine, you always write the bones, the marrow
    of a life/relationships. This is such a
    psychological poem of the hidden feelings
    harbored within women. This inner "dialogue"
    past, memory reveals how perceptions can
    vary so much - sometimes fashion from our
    own private pain.

    Speaking of dialogue - I will email you
    about part 2 of yours.

    Thank you.

  20. I'm speechless. The way you speak of death here is so comforting. I think I need to read through it again to fully take it in.

  21. Came by to read the comments and exclaim: "How well they comment!"

    Thoroughly taking in the experience.

    Joy always,

  22. Nevine I have to tell you I feel better now for some reason on som elevel this helped me. I lost my grandmother last year and still it haunts me...

    you always help me even when I can't see you or hear you...


  23. It does remind so much of the relationship between my mother and my grandmother when she was alive. Now it's playing out with me. I remember how hurt my mother was when she thought I wasn't upset enough when my gran died (I had broken up with someone and was torn up all over the place) and I recall how deeply unhappy that made me. We all say very cruel things at times and I'm not if we've ever quite forgiven each other.

  24. from time immemorial, mothers and daughters have fought, and loved, like no one else can...

  25. This is some of the best poetry I have ever read, and you are, without doubt, one of the best poets it has ever been my pleasure to read. This is sublime, descriptions could not come close to capturing the poignant beauty of this piece.

  26. So many things to think of here, the relationship of the grandmother, mother and daughter with each other and how they did and did not understands each other.

    It's a strange fact of life that even in intimacy we can be so far apart.

    You capture this truth so beautifully here.


  27. As the daughter of immigrants, I never really knew my grandparents. Met each set once only. This poem puts me in touch with what a primal relationship that is and possibly how much I missed in not knowing them, especially the grandmothers. Lovely poem, Nevine.

  28. Cynthia – Yes, I entirely agree. Perceptions do vary, and they are very much shaped by our personal experiences and especially by what we suffer. It’s lovely to see you here, Cynthia. And I will be looking for your email.

    Eva – I didn’t used to think of death in “comforting” terms. But sometimes, when we have lost someone who is close to us, after the grief, we are able to step aside from and outside of the situation and see it more objectively. I’m happy you found comfort here.

    Susan – You can come by whenever you wish and read whatever you please, and you know it! And I do love these conversations and dialogues we have here. It makes blogging the most awesome activity ever! But these friends do truly make the day, don’t they?

  29. Sir Thomas – I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. And I do know that feeling of being haunted for time eternal by the loss and the pain. I am so happy to have helped on whatever level this worked for you. Keeping you in my thoughts…

    Mme. DeFarge – There are so many dynamics in the grandmother-mother-daughter triangle, aren’t there? And they are so complex. I’ve always thought that every family is unique, but as time goes by and I witness and hear about other relationships, I realize that the similarities are far more than the differences. As for saying cruel things, yes! Sometimes we don’t think before we speak. We are impulsive… and we say things… and then it’s too late.

  30. LW – And you put it so perfectly and succinctly. I can always count on you!

    Sam – How wonderful to see you back! And how happy I am with your words. But I must say, your writing leaves me dumbfounded by its beauty… and this on a regular basis. Thank you for your kindness, Sam. You are ever sweet.

    Simone – I'm glad it felt personal for you.

  31. Jai – “… even in intimacy we can be so far apart.” You are absolutely right. I always think to myself, about people I love, “I love you but I don’t like you very much.” And I’ve even said it a few times. Agonizing and painful and hurtful, we can be to one another and to ourselves.

    Judy – I don’t know whether to tell you, “Well, you’re lucky you didn’t have to endure some of the experiences,” or “How unfortunate!” The truth of the matter is that we cannot miss what we have never had. These relationships are special, and they are everlasting, and they are set in stone, whether we care to admit this or not. But then, you are still Judy, even minus the grandmothers. And though you did not know either of your grandmothers well, you did know them through your mother and father. Our parents are indelibly marked by the personalities of their parents.

  32. I'm pretty sure most of us have family memories and relatioships that cause us pain. Some are new and some are old. Some of them get passed down from generation to generation.
    I guess it's how we deal with them that really matters.

    Once gain, on equal par with what you write about, is the amazing pacing you use. It's not always the same, but I believe you put some thought into it...

  33. Family secrets are a minefield. I'm always amazed at the variety of subjects you tackle and how well you develop them. The physical contact is sublimely mixed with the mental images. Many thanks. I'll miss your writing whilst I'm away. I hope you'll be taking holidays, too! (sorry, that was my selfish alter ego) :-)

    Greetings from London.

  34. Pat - I agree that it's how we deal with them that matters. And we all have different ways of dealing with things, too. And thank you for your thoughtful words, Pat. I do put a great deal of time and effort into my writing, so I appreciate your words.

    Cuban - And thanks to you for stopping in while you make preps for your departure. I really wasn't expecting it, so I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Have fun on your trip, Cuban!

  35. what a beautiful piece, nevine! accepting the silence! how magnificent! my own grandmother, the only one i knew, was a soft-spoken, softly moving gracious lady whom we watched love her own children and us [her children's children] softly but surely - one of the driving forces behind my yaya tree blog is for my own children to come to know her if only a little, in her now silent voice - beautiful piece, again!!!

  36. You are such a precocious young woman, Nevine. The ageless understanding of this poem truly touched me, spanning three generations as thought they were one. On a personal note, you've shared much for me to think about for my new novel, and I'm very much in your debt.

  37. "but your daughter and my mother
    though the same person in appearance
    are two different women in essence."

    Family dynamics are amazing!

    Your depth of feeling blows my mind.
    I read a lot of blogs. Whatever you post, is always the best thing I read that day.

  38. oh, wow. this is amazing.

    the whole of it is so hard and cold - the glass, ice, death, longing - but there is a flicker in it, how the narrator is forming a bridge even though the two sides of the chasm have fallen away - i'm absolutely blown away. i need to read it again just to drink it in.

  39. Nevine,

    Your post deals with intricate relational-issues ..... and might not relate with my sharing.

    Not everyone has the chance or misfortune, to know or not to know their grandparents.

    You give me an opportunity to travel into similar traditions, so enriched through your eyes.

    Unsaid matters comes to deafen our ears.

    In my case, i wish i had more occasions to know them.
    i recall only... the kind,smiling face of my maternal grand-mother, and the distant queenly position of my paternal grand-mother.

    i met them both on very few circumstances during long vacations, and then playing with my cousins seemed more attractive.

    Today i look back and wish i knew them a
    little more,i'd have loved to have sat by their feet to hear their personal stories....

    Now,as my mother ages i an now see something, some souvenirs of my grandmother in her face....

    Well, coming back to the subject, i'd say,
    i just love your eagle eyes and claws
    with which you nestle your theme,
    the way you proceed into a blurry region, making everything stand out....

    Very moving,.... You craft yourself in magical voices.
    Thankyou Nevine!

  40. Jenean - It is always such a pleasure to see you here. And I think you're doing a wonderful thing for your children. Not all families have the opportunity to bond well with all of their members, and sometimes history is all that exists. Somehow, it is... it feels... important to touch one another in ways that matter... and are memorable! Thank you for your always lovely words, Jenean.

    Rick - If I have provided you with material to reflect on for your book, then I'm really quite pleased with myself. Just from my observations, it would seem like you do a great deal of research for your writing, and not many writers actually take the time to do this. I always appreciate your feedback, Rick, so thank you for that.

    Pat - Well, thank you for that! I'm quite flattered, really. Coming from someone who knows how to bring to bearing the pains of war, I do appreciate that. And yes, family dynamics are quite something... the most complicated something of all, in fact!

  41. This was such a lovely read, intense, truthful, and weaved with such richness.
    I so love to read you, Nevine. You are unique and I am drawn to that.

    Always, always write!

  42. Calli - Thank you for the very encouraging words. I continue to write even as I continue to breathe. And with gentle spirits like you reading and leaving me such smiling thoughts, how can I stop? Thank you, again, for the very sweet words, Calli.


Your thoughts are deeply appreciated.