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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Poem: A world, and you in it

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A world, and you in it


The lines on the coasts
of maps parenthesize
us

as if we are together
though you (you)
are on the East Coast

and you (you)
are on the West —
as far from me as when the thin

membranes of my womb di-
vided me from you (you & you)
the waters of the world

holding in
the fleshy matter
that strangely

does not dissolve
what lies inside
the slippery, beating edges

but contains it without
effort or intrusion
as if we would never

mind separation
as long as one thing
holds us together — like blood

or my one body
with yours (yours & yours)
inside its coasts.



With many thanks to Brendan for his suggestions, I have revised the poem to what I feel is a better version, and recorded it. You can listen here.

A world, and you in it

The lines on the coasts

of maps parenthesize 

us

— mother, daughter and son
as if we are together

though one of you

is on the East Coast 


and the other
 is on the West —

as far from me as when the thin
membranes of my womb di-
vided me from you —
the waters of the world

holding in
the fleshy matter
that strangely

does not dissolve
what lies inside
the slippery, beating edges

but contains it without
effort or intrusion
as if we would never

mind separation
as long as one thing
holds us together — like blood

or my one body
with both of yours
inside its coasts.



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54 comments:

rosaria said...

Ahhh! IT's that moment of illumination.

Bonnie said...

Us. Exquisite.

steven said...

as with time, the small and great spaces are one and the same when they describe the distance between those we love. steven

Vagabonde said...

Very, very nice.

Maureen said...

I agree with your other readers: this is lovely. It speaks to transcending barriers, both physical and invisible, where there is love.

More Than Meets the I said...

The power of connecting beyond parantheses... Beautifully written, as always <3

OceanoAzul.Sonhos said...

Ruth, superb, intense, the power of love. Beautiful.
oa.s

Andrew said...

Thank you Ruth. What a wonderful illustration of the unity of all that is, tangible and in the realm of thought.

Someone once told a story of standing in the water at the sea shore and becoming aware of being connected to all life on Earth. The Ocean is connected to all water on Earth even to the clouds and to all life on Earth.

who said...

The relationship that we can have with those high energies that that are located in specific places (or exactly how and what interactions can take place at any loci)varies depending on what makes up the oceans of each involved party that is attempting to interact.

The Ocean's ocean is saltwater (liquid) and the sky's ocean is a mixture of elements of air (gas)and like you say our bodies ocean within it's veins and arteries are blood and separated are other oceans of serous and both are liquid oceans.

it seems that all the high energy locations of all realms, worlds, bodies both celestial and terrestrial
are places where travelling energies are transferred from one form to another, always a portion of which is lost in the transference (some that does not travel on with the rest) which always is accompanied by some turbulence. Depending on the two conductors from which the energy is being transferred between, it can be known how rough or how gentle the loss will be, but it can be accurately predicted.

The same as it can be predicted the way a person will experience that turbulence, depending on what makes up their ocean. What connects us by always having contact, is extremely important.

you wrote a very knowing poem Ruthi

George said...

Lovely and touching, Ruth, on so many levels, all of the levels in which we seek to either create or preserve unity.

Gwei Mui said...

So simple - well un-cluttered, I think is a more appropriate way of phrasing it.
"as if we would never

mind separation
as long as one thing
holds us together — like blood"
So poignant

The Solitary Walker said...

(lov - ely)

Ruth said...

Rosaria, thanks for brightening my day.

Ruth said...

Bonnie, I know you understand. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Steven, yes. Someone said everyone is within walking distance if you have the time.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Vagabonde. You are one who makes all distances seem small, keeping the world well traveled.

Ruth said...

Maureen, everything of the world that we perceive is inside us. And much that we don't perceive.

I miss my kids. But here they are. Thank you.

Ruth said...

More Than Meets the I, what are boundaries? They are things of our own creation most of the time. Thank you.

Ruth said...

OceanoAzul.Sonhos, some people actually bust down barriers with love and a lot of hard work. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Andrew, beautiful. It's the same water we've had for billions of years. Think of it. I love the effortless return of the waves.

Ruth said...

Dusti, what is lost, and what is gained in our connections over distance, through our bodies, perceptions, turbulence?

I don't know much about physics, but I know that even when I miss my kids when they're far away, I can hold them.

Thanks, my friend.

Ruth said...

George, everything can come inside, and we can be bees of the invisible. Much of how things and people grow in us is our choice. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, thank you for that. Simple is what I'm increasingly looking for, in everything.

Ruth said...

Robert, thank you (you).

Brendan said...

Mother and lover -- no wonder myths so conflated and confused the two, since all of us are born of womb and, like Peter Gabriel once sang in "Humdrum," "spend the rest of our life getting back when we can." The sense of both lover and child merging with the body of the mother/beloved, for a time erasing all boundaries and borders (and coastlines), only, as Life dictates, must emerge, form or resume the contours of Difference, go on forever haunted by that salt source (some believe that ennui goes all the way back down our brainstem to the memory of the first fish to leave the sea), getting back when, how we can. No wonder the old poets were considred "brides" of the king: they had to somehow assume the role you take hear, bringing forth life, singing it in full. The "you (your) " device was a little strange for me, I get the grammatical math but it doesn't quite seem necessary. - Brendan

Ruth said...

Brendan, what is so astonishing is how these magnetisms live in us instinctively through so many generations of birth and death and all that passes through time and space.

Thanks for your honest response to the you (your) device. It works better for me visually than aurally myself. It was a way to speak to two kids (on the literal level) in two places, which you seem to get, but I can see how it can grate a bit, because I'm not too sure of it either, poetically. I wonder, if I need to use them at all, maybe just the two in the second and third stanzas, and lose the rest? If you come back, I'd be interested in your thoughts on that.

Stratoz said...

am thinking the lines that form maps will never be the same.

Ruth said...

Stratoz, I know what you mean, I think. And another thing your comment makes me think of is how quickly borders and countries change, and maps are obsolete almost as soon as they're printed. Thanks for your comment.

Stratoz said...

morning Ruth, your response makes me think of my students who do their best to understand what I say ;')

Ruth said...

Morning. And thanks for the chuckle. :D

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

I find this quite moving, a mother's meditation on her body, an entire continent as womb writ large. It makes for an evocative contrast with your your poem 'My Coat' from last month, when your coat was not big enough for the body of a world you yearned to protect. A daughter in the east, a son out west, your body a lake somewhere in the middle and your love a continent ...

Ruth said...

Lorenzo, thank you for your succinct and spot-on reading of my poem. I had not connected it with "My Coat" and I appreciate the contrast you paid attention to.

Marcie said...

So powerful - to think and imagine that we're all connected like this. Inspiring work!

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, Marcie!

Dutchbaby said...

Unity separated by coasts.I know the feeling well, with one in New Orleans and another evaluating colleges. I will count on the unity of our minds as the last one will take flight from the nest.

Thank you for this poem.

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, it's an odd thing, isn't it, how we raise them to leave, and when they do, they tug us wit them out the door. This is such a big country.

who said...

Hi Ruthi, my comment is far more abstract then I thought it was when I was caught up in the moment of writing it. I love your poem, it made me think of maps and the coast lines viewed from high above (like looking at the drawing of a map) Some coastlines are smooth or more straight like the place where land and sea meet were cut with an x-acto blade. Other lines where the two meet appear like they separation was torn. Torn as in the lines appear like the boarder was drawn with a line that travelled greater distances east and west yet the line it was drawing was a border line relatively straight that travels north to south.

To me the latter looks as if the force that drew those lines was much more high energy. The analogy I was thinking of was energy in our world is commonly known as electricity. Electricity has measurements that for some persons are most easily understood as the same concept as measurement used with water (volume, and flows).

When we convert electricity into work of any form, it cannot be done with 100% efficiency. There is always a cost when converting electricity to another form. The electricity "lost" in the conversion is what I meant by lost. It almost always is "lost" in the form of heat given off. Heat is invisible until it is in contrast with it surrounding "ocean". When there is a build up of heat (heat is motion of molecules) it appears as if it were vapors like when we can see heat rising from the surface of a road on hot days, we can literally see the energy of the sun's rays being converted and taking up residence here in our world as heat. Those "vapors" or wavy blurring lines are what I meant by turbulence. Or within the analogy of coastlines the turbulence I liken it too is the ocean waves the crash on the shore of land.

Those explanations or how I understand energy and water, I use as a model for myself to better understand different realms. As in the mental, physical, and spiritual realms most of us believe exist in separated worlds. Like everything in the ocean is in contact with saltwater and on land we are always in contact with air, and though the two oceans appear to be separate there is air mixed with water and water mixed with air, I believe there is a common ocean in between realms (to keep it simple let's just stick to the realms being physical and spiritual)

page 1 of 2

who said...

I think the soul is what most people believe is that element that has the constant contact. My analogy was symbolizing the soul similar the principles of energy symbolized as electricity. When one world ends and the next one begins, there is what I labelled as "transference" by which I was trying to say the act of the soul moving in a way that it's majority transfers from one world to the next which during this action some "turbulence" occurs(when we die our soul [ouls or owls] that mostly was with our physical body, orchestrating all our bodies cells to be in synchronous time so that life for our body was possible. And our soul giving up that laborious job and moving on so that it's majority now resides in the spiritual realm)

during that "transfer" of our soul's residence, small portions are left behind so that there is no loss of contact. "left behind" is the term I used so that more persons might find my theory palatable in regards to souls, and in regards to electricity or water transfers I used the term "lost" to describe the event.

Because on some scale, there is a more or less closed system (like our earth's water in the water cycle) it is a cycle, and that cycle is a cycle within another cycle and so on until it starts (or ends) in a previously completed cycle (ie starting over again)

When I wrote "we" and referenced "relationship" I meant it more to mean we as in humans, and the relationship between our species and our mother earth.

this even longer comment explaining the meaning, or my thoughts behind my words, sometimes only detracts from how others understand what I meant, so it is hard sometimes revisiting meaning, unless I know they are willing to again try to understand or if not, be OK with not understanding. But either way, I am honestly trying to come up with words to include other minds that desire to know, and not confuse any mind. It would probably help if I first wrote in a word document, revised my words before posting, but my words shared are almost always rough and first draft. Another train always runs through before I get a chance to ever go back.

It is a lovely poem Ruthi

Barb said...

I felt a tear starting as I read your poem, Ruth. A tribute to what is created - be it children or poems.

Susan said...

Just got off the phone with my grown son, and here this beautiful gift was waiting. Thank you, Ruth.

Ginnie said...

I wonder if this is the poem of every mother (and grandmother) who is separated AND contained by the parentheses of life's journey. As I write this I see little Ruthie out on the righthand corner of your page here...on the sidewalk next to the bike and the house...another parentheses. Time, too, is a ( and a ).

Brendan said...

Hiya - I'm not a fan of what I think is called language poetry -- Jorie Graham leaves me cold, as does Ashbery --academic exercisers, mandarins of the art who, like other refined practitioners, you have to "know" to "get" -- Maybe if you're writing to two children, the following (my italics are suggested revisions):

The lines on the coasts
of maps parenthesize
mother and her two daughters

as if we are together
though one of you
is
on the East Coast

and the other
is
on the West —

* * *

Maybe too simplistic, but it clarifies somewhat who you're addressing. And then leave the "you (you & you)" in the fourth stanza to state the grammatical equation clearly that once. Then in the final stanza, maybe "yours (yours & yours)" could become both of yours

Sorry to weigh in heavily, just my opinion, your poetry is always so fine ... We always engage the verbal gymnastics, and some of what we do is acrobatics, fun to watch when we don't fall ass over tea-kettle, but does it serve the larger heart at work? I ask that for my own benefit ... for my own construction ... Brendan

Ruth said...

Dusti, I think I sort of knew that's what you meant by "lost."

Your last paragraph of page 1 reminds me of today's Rilke reading at A Year with Rilke, about how we discover something new through our heart, and the blood carries it through our body and brain. It is one whole world, not divisible, yet we do divide it. It is holistic.

Your analogy of soul transference as electricity is well explained and understood by me, at least as far as I "get" electricity, etc. I do like thinking of the system of water, which is constantly cycling though its various states seem "concrete."

Thank you so much for sharing your process here, Dusti.

Ruth said...

Barb, thanks so much.

Ruth said...

Susan, I'm glad you found what you did to connect with here. (And I'm excited about our project!)

Ruth said...

Boots, and I can picture you on that bike, riding the parentheses of the sidewalks (all five sides) of the big city block in Grand Ledge.

Ruth said...

Brendan, I think I know what you mean, for I am not a fan of Ashbery either.

I find your revision helpful, and I will take it under consideration. :-)

I really appreciate your taking the time to interact with it. I especially thank you for caring enough (about poetry, about my poetry, about whatever you have cared about carefully here) to take out your pen and workshop what hit your ear, eye and heart wrong. For me, word and sentence structure, punctuation, the look on the page, etc., evolve and tug at me to experiment. It always feels organic though, even while I sometimes seek new forms to play with. What I like about the experiment is how it pushes my mind and heart into reaches it hasn't encountered. Does the play with words illuminate something, or serve the larger heart at work as you put it? Sometimes it does, and that is wonderful. Sometimes it's just fun. In the case of this poem, I was in moments of heartfelt longing for my daughter and son, and the device just presented itself. It's a good instance of what comes out of the heart needing to be tempered with the mind, perception, language, communication, etc., to see what "works" when conveying the feeling felt or thought thought to the reader.

Susan said...

Well, I loved your "device". I got it immediately, and it made me, as a mother who has been separated by distance from her own children from time to time, yearn with you for the physical closeness of your offspring. Well done, Ruthie, well done.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Susie. Maybe the distance creates an illusion that our kids are less within our ability to protect them. But we know that distance has nothing to do with it, and we have little control, near or far. We can only treasure them, body and soul, eternally.

Much love to you on your vacation in NC, dear heart. xoxox

erin said...

see? and so i consider the big bang and when we were separated, for obviously, once we were whole. love the parenthesize metaphor! love this!

(how did i miss this one?)

xo
erin

lc said...

yes, the expansion
from a cell to a universe
all connected in one womb

freefalling said...

Ruth, I love that idea of coastlines enclosing us in brackets.

blueoran said...

Even though I think love and poetry share the same verbal source, I think it's exceedingly difficult to write a poem that both artfully and lovingly communicates to a beloved (lover, child, cat, etc). It takes a deft, rare hand, and you nailed it here. Of course we must write with heart, with all of our art: but poems which succeed on both fronts deserve a special applesauce, I mean, applause. (I've been watching "The Larry Sanders Show" on DVD). My suggestions were really minor, but what you finished with edited out all of the artifice, leaving only the communication. The finest compliment to your poem would be all of the comments here, and a faint smile from your kids. -- Brendan

Terresa said...

The before & after, while I like both, I do prefer the second version to the first. And the last line, just sticks and stays:

"inside its coasts."

Cartography has long fascinated me, putting places on paper, trying to capture them. Have you read any R. Solnit lately?

Beautiful work as always, Ruth.