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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Poem: Woman and cloud

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Woman and cloud

From her propped hospital bed
the old woman who nearly died
a few days ago now talks and
talks, while a continental drift of cloud
passes over the hospital and suburbs.
They are each unaware of the other,
the sheeted woman and the gray cloud;
both snowcapped, and round at the edges;
both moving in the minimal float
that seems a physical impossibility
when gravid with so much fluid;
there is much winter to come, and harshly;
they hold it up like a woman’s flounces.






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36 comments:

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Perhaps it is precisely because they are unaware of each other, the old woman and the continental drift of clouds, that we need fine poetry like this poignant piece and the soft tender light it shines on what connects them to one another and to us, no matter how harsh the winter to come.

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, Lorenzo. I had seen a huge cloud moving quickly across the sky, though it covered the sky too (not like in the photo here from a few years ago). And some days before, I remembered my mother-in-law, when asked if she wanted the drape opened in her hospital room, so she could see outside, she said, "no." Both transfixed me; I wanted to bring them together.

Dave King said...

I very much like the exact analogies you draw between them. They work very well, as does the poem as a whole.For me it ticks all the major boxes.

Ruth said...

Dave, thank you for reading; I'm glad the poem works for you!

Marcie said...

What a wonderful metaphor - the woman and the cloud..and the winter that's coming. Love this one!! And - what an exquisite image!

Louise Gallagher said...

I think you've brought them together very well indeed.

Your mother-in-law's wish to keep the drapes closed makes me think of those moments in time when I too have wanted to hold onto the space I'm in, to keep it sacred, fresh, separate from the world outside, as long as I could.

Maureen said...

Beautiful imagery, Ruth. This line "there is much winter to come, and harshly;" so wonderfully pulls the poem into its full meaning.

Peter said...

Amazing picture! works so well with the poem too. Spiritual

hedgewitch said...

You've captured a defining moment in your poem--and as always underlined how much a whole is all we see and are. The talking seems to me like the rain/snow releasing, shook out from the turbulence of those flounces blown by storm, by as I said the other day, that 'upper level disturbance.' You never fail to amaze me with the clarity of both your language and your vision.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, bringing together the two things, the woman and the cloud, creatively connecting them. The surprise - what have they to do with each other? - then the linkages, and the final two lines going beyond, into the future, but stuck for the moment in the poignant present. Admirable, your objectivity, Ruth. A fine poem. And that penultimate line is beauty.

Mark Kerstetter said...

I see it: the towering cloud woman with the full length gown. Love how you stitched these things together, enabling us to enjoy your poetic embroidery.

Grandmother said...

I'm still back at the photo being absolutely astounded by that beautiful and remarkably clear woman in all her stately glory like some avenging angel.

George said...

A very fine poem, Ruth, and one that must have been especially poignant to write. Perhaps we all read these poems differently, but I was struck by the common movements and common destiny of "the sheeted woman and the gray cloud . . . both moving in the minimal float that seems a physical impossibility," both holding up for the harsh winter to come. In a nutshell, I found the poem to be comforting, for it seems to recognize that everything is one and all things are transitory.

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

Lovely words... And lovely illustration, also.

♫♡♫ ♫♡♫
"With visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in our heads, we are perfectly at home in the dreamy world of whirling, twirling Mirlitons and arabesquing Dew drops from the classic Nutcracker story."

rosaria said...

Only in poetry like this one, the reader is confronted with intimate and mortal passages as they appear both fixed and fluid. The last line is the finishing touch.

erin said...

i have to say, ruth, the comparison is but the hand that says look for me in this one. it is the language that nails it for me. gravid! are you even kidding me? and then flounces! we do not know where one begins or the other ends. nor do we really with anything.

a very solid piece of writing that extends beyond clever into life.

xo
erin

Ruth said...

Marcie, thank you for your enthusiasm for these things.

Ruth said...

Louise, and are you feeling that now, on the roof? :-)

Ruth said...

Maureen, thank you for reading and liking this.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Bo! The cloud I saw was different from this cloud, but I think it works too. I told myself I should photograph that sky-filling continental cloud. Always listen to yourself when you say that!

Ruth said...

Hedge, wonderful you to see/hear her words like the precipitation from the cloud! This was present in my mind as I wrote, and I love that you got it. You never fail to amaze me with your attentive and perceptively close reading.

When I looked up "flounce" after writing it, wanting to be sure I had it right, look what else I found:


Synonyms
1. storm, bound, prance, bounce.


I never knew flounce also meant storm!

Ruth said...

Robert, thanks so much. There were a couple days I didn't think the idea of these two together could work. And why should they, I kept asking? But they were stubborn and wanted to remain together on the page.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Mark. I almost wonder if the photo is a distraction, because it is so different from the cloud that inspired this poem. But I'm glad you see the woman in it, as do I.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Mary. I am still astonished by that scene myself, seen on my drive to work (or home from work) one day. As I said to Mark, it's a different cloud from the one in the poem, but that's all right. The image and inspiration are bigger than these representations.

Ruth said...

George, I do feel comfort in this poem, it was intended, and so I am glad you felt it too. Thank you for your perceptive and close reading and feeling. Yes, everything is one, and fleeting. And your new post almost fled past me. How has it been there for two days, and I missed it? I'm off to read and relish . . .

Ruth said...

Thanks, Auntie.

Brendan said...

So glad to hear, if this is the poem's news, that MIL is recovering ... and happy to read this floating poem, where life is somehow augmented by its frailty, become a magnitude by not lasting. The tall walking cloud in the photo is stately and graceful, in full possession of all those essential fluids, perhaps because winter must come ... fine write. B

Ruth said...

Rosaria, thanks for reading, and for your insight.

Ruth said...

Thank you, erin. How do we hope to convey what is felt, in words? I'm glad you feel something of it here.

Ruth said...

Brendan, yes, my MIL is much, much improved; still in the hospital, but so much herself that the difference is almost shocking.

Thanks for expressing the conjoined reality of what is fragile and transitory being felt with immensity.

Miss Jane said...

Amazing marriage of images and concepts: the sheeted woman and the gray cloud.
Although you use vivid language here, you also show restraint, giving us the minimal float we need to share in the awe with you.
Wow.

Chris G. said...

Interesting parallel...Miss Jane's description of it as a "marriage" of images certainly is an apt description. Potent, creative little piece that draws us all along for that ascent, in curiosity. It speaks to mortality, and to the world - rains down in soft poetic rain. Fine little piece.

Chris G. said...

trickles down in soft poetic rain*

deb colarossi said...

ah, I thought you wrote this for me and forgot to tell me.
This is the best kind of poetry I think .

and I am glad to hear that your dear MIL is doing better.

Susan said...

That picture is amazing! So happy that your MIL is doing so much better. I totally forgot to ask about her yesterday during our chat. I thought of it later, of course.

The poem, of course, is perfection. Love it. Love you.

Margaret said...

Quite an image!

"the sheeted woman and the gray cloud;
both snowcapped, and round at the edges;

I love how you see things and pair them perfectly with your words.