Silence, Silence, Silence, Then a Draft

We have discussed stresspiles on this blog before. Stresspiles, from the Gerry (this is like 'from the Latin', but different) meaning too much stress all at the same time. The stresspiles are piling up around here, as one would expect them to in times of oh, say, a cross-country move. I tend to go quiet during times of stress. This became clear to me one day last year when I decided to go back to my old journals and read what I had written during the darkest days of my chronic illness.

In the span of a year, I, a prolific journaler, had written exactly five words: "My health has been iffy."

Of course, "iffy" didn't begin to describe it. And while it's true that at the time I could barely hold a pen, pressed between my thumb and the first (lowest) knuckle of my index finger, I had to wonder about someone who calls herself a writer not writing during such a transformational time.

Well, I'm at it again, dear Reader. Not writing. During a transformational time. I am also not reading; not reading poetry, that is. Because, I want to say to Poetry, you require all of me. And you can't have all of me right now.

But last week there was an emergency with one of the kids. It was scary and awful, and it required an ER visit, but everyone's fine and healthy now. Once everyone was fine and healthy, I went to my notebook as if pulled by gravity. Something needed saying. I had an image in my head, a memory of watching Husband hold our first born Bean in one hand just hours after his birth. Have you ever seen a man do that with a newborn babe? A big man, with a big hand, big enough to hold a tiny baby right there?

I remembered what I felt in that moment, lying in a hospital bed, watching my husband hold our newborn son in one hand. I remember how raw and vulnerable I felt then, having brought this little life into the big, wide world. I remember thinking, Well, this is it, then. I will never feel this raw and vulnerable again. All you mothers out there, and you wise non-mothers too, feel free to laugh with me now. How sweet, my naivete! But how could I have known that as parents we get to feel more raw and more vulnerable with each passing year as we encounter all the ways we cannot protect our children from bad things: mean people, rotten luck, pure accidents, natural disasters, grief, illness, failure, fear, death.

When I was a teenager, I wrote so many poems (very bad poems) that came straight out of difficult experiences. In those years, poetry was a way to sort through things. And this new draft, this first act of literature I've committed in at least a month, was just the same. A way to sort through watching my child suffer, be in danger, and come through.

I hope it's better than the poems I wrote when I was fourteen and Jeff Brown moved to Greenville and started dating Jody Hankis and forgot all about me. I look back now and see the poems were bad and Jeff Brown wasn't even cute. Maybe someday I will look back on this draft and say, Meh. But I have to be glad for a poem of pure impulse, a poem for coping, a good old fashioned just-get-it-out-on-paper poem.

I'll take that now, amidst the stresspiles. A little healing draft. Just the thing.

Here's a little taste...

                                      "You think
you are as raw as you will ever be
and empty as a house blown
apart by storm. Dear girl,
I won't tell you now of the deal
you've just made"

...and here's to hoping the stresspiles are all over at my house right now and they're leaving you, dear Reader, alone.


drew said...

This is a beautiful poem, or part-of-poem. Looking forward to the finished work. Even more, I'm happy to see you back in action (though the silence was clearly good for your creative self).

Molly said...

Thanks, Drew.

Gerry said...

The stresspiles around here have more or less taken over, but we are shoveling them out the door almost as fast as they accumulate, and we have hopes of catching up to them if we can just keep at it.

I think there are times that form us because we are deeply immersed in living them rather than observing them. It all gets stowed away in there somewhere, and one day we . . . make an observation.

You've been observant to good effect. I hope it felt really good to work that way. Gives a person the energy to grab the shovel again, doesn't it?

CitricSugar said...

Glad everyone is okay. Despite only taking one class right now, my stresspiles are still kinda pile-y.

Best of luck with the move! I'm hoping so much that the climate will really ease things for you and that your stresspiles will shrink or, at the very least, be accompanied by giant oranges and sunshine.

hankisjensen said...

Hi, Molly..imagine my surprise to see my name here! I now teach heartbroken teenagers, many days I look back at myself and laugh, and Jeff Brown went bald. As much as I shake my head at my 16 year old me, she gives me memories.
Jody Hankis-Jensen