Saturday, January 28, 2012


Detail from Venus with a Mirror, Titian

You gather your thoughts like
one gathers so many vagabond grains of sand,

And this I recognize ever so patiently
as our ‘growing into’ one another sparks,

our furtively flickering synthesis
day after day

year after year
this measured merging of one with one

And flaressudden, speechless
like my recognition of my need for breath,

when I am gasping on its absence.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Writing . . . and the Gift of Silence

Detail from Woman Reading, Augustin Bernard d'Agesci

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink, and clamoring to become visible. ~ Vladimir Nabokov

* * * * * * * * *

I love to write. No big surprise, right? I have a writing blog (actually, two), and though I am not a frequent blogger, I am very much a frequent writer. I write daily. My existence depends on it. My sanity depends on it, to be sure.

I’m a “processing” person. I like to analyze and think things through, and I write so I can find new ways of looking at the world. The human mind can only process so much in the split seconds it takes us to internalize a certain situation. Before we’ve had a chance to mull it over, it has already been filed away as “Event 99,” along with all the associations that go with it. So, what about Processing, and Understanding, and Insight?

There is something extremely satisfying and fulfilling in the act of writing, though I don’t think it’s the act of writing itself that satisfies. Rather, it’s the act of creating... recreating... from a unique perspective, having broken things down to their small parts. Hence: Processing. Understanding. Insight. When we create art, we give birth to fragments of ourselves. And, more often than not, if we have truly put ourselves into our artful self-expression, we don’t even have to claim it as ours. It will have “Nevine” or “Carl” or “Perpetua” written all over it, because it is bursting with the spirit of who we are.

We write. We paint. Fragments. We express. We create. Fragments. And as those fragments of ourselves are released, they make their way through the ether, seeking new resting, nesting places. Many times, they don’t find what they’re looking for. But sometimes, they do. This is when magic happens for the receiver. Magic is what makes something inside us, as appreciators of creative expression, smile and think, “Yes!” while reading a poem by, say, T. S. Eliot. Yes, he is my favorite poet. He always has been. He always will be. I read his words and they touch a part of me I sometimes wonder if even I have ever touched so intimately. 

I have similar experiences with my own work, especially when it comes to the creating part. Sometimes, my writing leaves me shimmering with its ease and beauty. Other times, I am up all night, with not a flicker of emotion or inspiration with which to put words to paper. And, to be sure, my reader will always experience my free or stunted flow, on one level or the other.

And just what is the point of this whole dissertation? The point is... four days ago I made a decision to take a writing fast. I told myself I would abstain, for a few days, from creative writing of any sort... just so I could see what it feels like. When my fingers itched for my favorite writing pen, I wrung them like they were saturated with water. When my head ached from an overflow of unexpressed thought, I told it, Silence, my head. When my muse came by for tea, I politely took a rain check.

I confess: This was an act of extreme masochism. It was almost physically painful, especially because I knew I had the choice to reverse my decision. But the truth is I felt that staying away from writing for a short while would be a good thing... because... when I am not birthing my own words, I indulge sensually in the words of others.

So I have been reading... and listening to music... and reading... and celebrating the beauty of others’ words... and worlds. But then, today... I needed my own words. I needed them more intensely than I have over the past four days. I needed the cleansing and cathartic power of their presence, and I decided to break my fast. But, oh muse! Oh, fickle one! She shunned me, just as I had shunned her. And words were not to be found! I asked her over for tea and crumpets, but she gave me her left shoulder.

I decided not to attend to her vengeful play, and instead, to read some more... just as I have been doing these past few days. As Joyce Carol Oates once wrote, “If writing is not available, reading is.” Indeed! I chose a collection of poems by Franz Wright. He’s quite the poet, truly. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize and all! Yet amazingly, because he is a poet, most people have never heard of him. Sad, eh? I picked up a copy of his God’s Silence at a used bookstore a couple of weeks ago, and I spent my morning in the company of his ethereal words:

The long silences need to be loved, perhaps
more than the words
which arrive
to describe them
in time.

Brilliant, yeah? And, can I just say? All the comfort... and confirmation... I was seeking.

As for me, as I await the arrival of words with which to describe my silence, and as I listen to the magnificence of Beethoven’s easy flow of creativity, here is my humble, muse-free contribution for today:

when my words
my voice
my spirit
are resting
their eyes

let the words
the voices
the spirits
of others

In every limitless void, there is limitless bounty!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Intimations of Self-Integration

Young Woman, Pablo Picasso


at first
there is silence
and how it creeps in
and settles into the corners even
most neglected, most marginalized


and also
there is solitude
and how it lingers
on windowpanes by day
on shadowed walls by dark


and too
there is awakening
and how it scintillates
in the intense midnight sky
serenading the tangoing stars


and then
there is wholeness
and how it manifests
in a quiet elaboration like
a shore that becomes the sea