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Poetry Saturday: One Plus One

Poetry Saturday: One Plus One

Tammy April 23, 2011 9 comments

Orchid blooming on my kitchen window sill

 

Labor Pains
     by Tammy Vitale

I’m trying to unravel the knot
in my stomach, find the string that
can start the unrolling, trace
the pieces and yank them free.

This string is my son – it changes
colors depending on the shirt it wears,
the weather and the position
of the moon.
It is the shortest string, most
tangled and I cannot find the ends.
I tug and tug but it will not budge,
it is too tightly wrapped around
my heart.

This one is daughter, a string
I can hardly ever see.  It is a
chameleon –
matches its surroundings.
It knows how to survive and does
it well, dancing on the edges in noisy
tap shoes to scare away the dark, hiding
in the sun, kissing the air with
its tongue.

This one once was husband.  It is green gray
and almost thrown away
(I think)
except where it touches our daughter and twines
around our son; and in a few places I cannot see
anymore except during storms and long
nights when I am alone and
dreaming.

There’s a string made of cigars and
wearing a mask called Dad and another one
of gin
and piano keys, Mom, that’s shaded with
generosity.  I thought I had buried that one
but I found an end tied
to my toe.

I pull and I pluck
     I pick and I strum,
while my lover sings to the strings and
helps me remember to breathe –
as though I am in labor birthing
something –
as though the knot were in my womb
someone
struggling to break free.

 

Kindness
     by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
     purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

In Category : Poetry Saturday
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Comments

9
  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    April 23, 2011
    Tammy

    Hey Tammy!

    I love your poem. As a midwife, is it any surprise I’m exceedingly fond of it? 🙂

    My friend Lindsey Mead also referred to the Kindness poem in her most recent blog: http://www.adesignsovast.com/2011/04/messages-from-the-universe/

    I think the Universe must want you two to meet. (And I arranged the introduction via Facebook. 🙂

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    April 23, 2011
    Tammy

    I’m so glad Stacey pointed me here! I’m glad to know of your blog and your writing.
    xo

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    April 23, 2011
    Tammy

    Stacey – now that you mention it, it is the perfect poem for you!

    Lindsey – ran over to FB and friended you before I came here. Happy to meet you! Stacey is definitely the connection woman this week!

    Thanks to you both for stopping by!

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    April 23, 2011
    Tammy

    Both of these poems are so beautifully insightful. Thank you for sharing!

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    April 24, 2011
    Tammy

    Hi Charlotte – thank you – high praise coming from you! Heard anything from that last poem?

    Do you know Nye’s poetry? If not, treat yourself to Words Under the Words – you’ll love it.

    Happy Easter!!

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    April 24, 2011
    Tammy

    tammy, this is a fabulous piece of writing, i loved how you wove the pieces all together and in the end, i thought how brilliant. hope your holiday was filled with light and love and some sunshine too.
    xxx

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    April 25, 2011
    Tammy

    these are both so powerful tammy! from your poem, this line really speaks to me: “find the string that
    can start the unrolling, trace
    the pieces and yank them free”. i’ve been doing energy work around this unravelling process and the reclaiming of more and more of my own energy that goes along with it. and the second piece is such a great reminder of how the journey of self-kindness involves feeling the full range of our feelings. thanks for sharing!

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    April 25, 2011
    Tammy

    Linda: sunshine (finally) and a motorcycle putt in the late evening. Hope your bday was grand!

    Ije – thanks for stopping by! I find the unraveling one of those processes that is eternal – there’s always another piece somewhere! But this is not a bad thing, more of adventure
    and discovery

  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    April 25, 2011
    Tammy

    tammy, your poem pulls at my own heartstrings… as i get older, the more strands are added to the knot in my own belly. i connect so strongly with all of it, but especially the bittersweet reference to a former spouse, “…and in a few places I cannot see anymore except during storms and long nights when I am alone and dreaming…”

    sometimes, it takes hard work to not feel alone even when you’re still with someone, and these lines make me want to reforge that connection with my own husband before the strands unravel.

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