Intimations of Mortality

Lately I’m expending a lot of effort feeling frustrated by the lagging response times of most of the journals I’ve submitted to, fighting the urge to dash off mild yet curious emails regarding my poems. I feel stymied, depressed.

Lately I’m frustrated by my failure to stabilize Aidan’s ever-erratic sleep schedule, my attempts at weaning, my formerly reliable and now nonexistent writing time. My, my, my. Stymied, depressed.

There’s more, there’s always more, especially in the fall. Lovely, the blazing migration of leaves, but I’m not ready for the morning frost. The cold nights. The days with more than just a snap in the air. The early dark.

But really, it’s all a smokescreen. Because my mother is fighting lung cancer, and who isn’t helpless in the face of her mother’s mortality? The reminder that life may be tenacious, but still as frail as cicada husks.

The use of the word cicada is not gratuitously poetic. It was my mother who taught me the correct pronunciation of cicada, who identified that constant buzzing sound for me when we visited family in Georgia.

Since suddenly losing my father in 1993 this has been a fear, because only with that loss did the possibility of further loss even occur to me. It’s not news that youth carries a nearly impossibly impenetrable sense of immortality. Nearly.

I’m writing about this here because even though I’ve been distracted, I have no intention of letting A View from the Potholes become a fallow field. My tenacious life has transformed and expanded, and retracted, too, in so many ways since that night in 2007 I began.

Grave illness doesn’t have to mean that everything else pales in importance. I think that’s a mistake. Perspective is good. Having a sense of proportion. But life isn’t a hierarchy.

In the first episodes of “Lost,” the character of Jack said something to Kate about dealing with fear that’s always stayed with me, though I missed its last seasons. He said that when he’s afraid, he gives in to the fear, allows it its full rein, for five seconds. For five seconds he lets the terror in. Then, at the count of five, he moves on.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five —


Confession Tuesday, my occasional contribution:

  • Kelli, January, and others have fuller line-ups of participating confessors, so travel yonder for directions. I’m so far behind I’m still mired in September.
  • My bottom’s still broken, but the pain is becoming more manageable/tolerable; also, my husband took a buzz saw to the stairs — the top stair hung over the second by a good three inches, hastening any missteps — it was quite satisfying, I confess.
  • I never used the word “bottom” until I had kids. I remember the childbirth class instructor saying “bottom” at least 10 times per class, and it amused me endlessly. But,without going too deeply into it, using “bottom” averts numerous scatalogical references. It works.
  • Between Collected Poets work & Tupelo work & my broken bottom, I’ve written not a single poem since August. However, I sent my MS to one contest, plan on sending to one more, I’m awaiting word on many submissions, and Cave Wall accepted two poems for next year. Not too shabby.
  • Elisa Gabbert has a post up about top pop songs, and I confess that I adore this sort of thing. Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the 80’s — a dreadful decade for fashion, but arguably the best for pop music. Some perched high on my echelon:
    • A-ha — I actually love the entire cassette that features “Take on Me”  — “The Sun Always Shines on TV” is clever! I need to find this on CD.
    • OMD — “If You Leave” — what teenager doesn’t have this on her personal soundtrack? Don’t tell me, I don’t believe you.
    • The Cure — “Just Like Heaven” — this song makes me want to twirl around and around really fast. It just does.
    • Martika — “Toy Soldiers” — remember Kids Incorporated? Forget Fergie, I loved Martika.
    • Pat Benatar — “Wide Awake in Dreamland”, not as well-known but just as pop-worthy, is my favorite of her albums. She was my first concert; I was 16, only about 6 rows from the stage, and it was a pretty small venue. Spoiled me for life, I can’t stand a stadium-style show — I crave the intimate.
    • Heart — “Alone” — Elisa already has this on her list, but pining was my adolescent art, and “Alone” is the paragon of pining songs.

I haven’t even come close to a partial accompaniment to Elisa’s partial list, but hey, it’s a start. There are wicked big gaps here. Add to it. Confess, c’mon, you know you want to.


Josephine Dickinson & Sharon Dolin (via The Collected Poets Series)

Josephine Dickinson & Sharon Dolin Thursday, October 7, 2010, at 7:00pm, poets Josephine Dickinson and Sharon Dolin will usher in the fourth season of the Collected Poets Series. ($2-5 suggested donation) Josephine Dickinson has published four collections of poetry, Scarberry Hill (The Rialto, UK, 2001), The Voice (Flambard, UK, 2004), Silence Fell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, USA, 2 … Read More

via The Collected Poets Series