Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Poem: White plate


White plate

The car on ice spins out at 70 miles an hour.
My sister throws herself over the banister
breaking both legs (but not her life,
which is what she wanted).
A wild man worries the locks
of the doors and windows
as I run just ahead with my little girl
to secure each one.

Just so, violence plays
in my dreams.

And in the light of day,
a tin can cuts my finger to the bone.
At work my ankle turns
above a wet shoe, and down I fall
flat on the linoleum
of the old department’s floor.
My anger at a co-worker’s refusals
throbs like my finger and hip.

We are torn, and we
tear; the throbbing vein
tells the truth. We wrap it
and unwrap it, and like the peels
and tendons of a pomegranate,
discard its stained residue
on a serene white plate.

February 2012

Painting "Dood snipje" by Jan Mankes, 1909


"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

Did your dreams, foretell the violence which would come, in your waking hours?

Do you notice things like this, often?

Dreams foretelling the future, as it were?

"Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading,
to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him."

- Maya Angelou

James Owens said...

the world abrades us away, and we are violence to those around us, even when we don't want to be. that seems to be the rule of this strange, echoing wood where we have unaccountably woken ... of course the slice to the finger makes the finger real -- but it is hard to remember that while bleeding ...

Vagabonde said...

This is a bit violent to start February? You know I am not good at critiquing English poetry – I am closer to earth. I read that when you have violent dreams it means you were too warm in bed – too many covers. As for falling on the lino – I am not sure whether you really did or this is poetic liberty. If you did, I hope you did not hurt yourself. I did fall on the lino at work with a horrible tear in my ankle and now – years later, arthritis went in it and it hurts my foot, continually. So I hope everything is OK with you and this is just a poem?

Nelson said...

In the light of day....we are torn, and we tear....

What is it, when we feel pain and injustice, what is this that also takes life out of us, like that snipe on its back? Real life is also unreal, at times hard to decipher.

Yes, serene white plates, when used, get stained.

These are provocative images, Ruthie.


The Solitary Walker said...

That shocking stain on the white plate... Indeed, we tear and are torn, Ruth. A powerful and uncompromising poem, facing squarely our nightmares and their daytime correspondences. I feel this poem emerges out of the vulnerability of experiencing a recent, closely felt birth and death.

George said...

Yes, "we are torn and we tear," and, notwithstanding our feeble efforts at denial, "the throbbing vein tells the truth"—always! We have the serene white plate for a moment, but the throbbing vein of reality always returns to deposit its stained residue. But then, of course, the residue disappears in time, and the serene white plate returns—only for a moment, only for a moment.

I applaud your openness in this poem, Ruth. That's how we get rid of the stained residue.

Kathleen said...

Powerful poem. I will continue to see the white plate, the tearing.

Barb said...

Whether in dream or waking, worries/regrets stain our (sub)consciousness. I think (for me) it's the promise of the serene white plate that gives some relief.

Loring Wirbel said...

Hypnotic, full of half-realized fears. Did a poem "Three Gorges" about sliding out on ice near Benton Harbor, but this takes on the character of the dream of the fall, tumbling off the balcony, beautiful and scary.

hedgewitch said...

We're surrounded by violence, fear and drama, waking, sleeping, I think our species generates it like random static electricity. So yes, we reflect the larger within ourselves and our lives, and that last stanza holds a huge amount of the mystery of what we do with it. Cutting and sharp as the third stanza event, Ruth.

The Unknowngnome said...

Well written. Pulled me right in.

who said...

Powerful Poem Ruth,
I wish more people felt free to be themselves, including a the truest form of freedom, which is honesty.

There is a huge portion of violence that we do not have to tolerate, it's perpetuated by the same people who use the fear of violence, to commit acts of violence. It's through this form of terrorism that they believe they can get away with it.

These are people who are cowards, as they violence and fear they spread, is only done because they can remain anonymous.

Hang in there, as when one has the courage to stand up against it, often whole societies find the courage to eradicate the despicable forms of it.

The miracles start when the People stop believing the lies, that certain violences are unavoidable

Ruth said...

Auntie, no, I don't often notice connections between my dreams and daylight occurrences. I do think there are sometimes "things" in the air that also affect the psyche. Certainly I have had "baby brain" these last days, and have been a bit distracted. I thought I had slowed down, but maybe not quite enough. :-) Thank you for reading, and your comment questions!

James, these are certainly strange truths of this human life. But along with the unavoidable wounds we do to one another, also come enormous joys, felt all the deeper for the pain.

Dear Vagabonde, your fall sounds quite terrible, and with such a long-lasting residual "stain" (pain). I'm sorry to hear it. Thankfully, my fall did not cause me any damage that I can detect! I feel very fortunate. Thank you so much for your concern.

Ruth said...

Nelson, I don't know what it is, but I know that life is incomplete without these seemingly opposing forces. Thank you for your response, big brother.

Robert, thank you so much. I feel that you are right, that these intense dreams, the accidents, and the poem were generated by the acute emotions of these last days. It is as if my psyche is calibrating itself to all the goings on.

George, thank you for your response and understanding. Even now I cringe at what I've written here, and how harsh these things are. But I agree that we must attend to all things in their essence, go after them, bring them into consciousness.

Ruth said...

Kathleen, I appreciate your response a lot.

Barb, I have to agree with you about that white plate.

Loring, thanks, my friend. Your poem and experience sound frightening. How terrifying this human life is, and how beautiful. xo

Ruth said...

Hedge, I actually thought of you and your dreams as these lines came out. Thank you for your response, and for always facing the violence head on.

To The Unknowngnome, thanks so much!

Dusty, I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. The power of suggestion is terrifying, really, maybe more than anything. To think that our very fears can be shaped by another! All your points are well taken. It takes constant mindfulness to resist the habits of fear pummeling us through the media, and then into our psyches. Thank you!

steven said...

the pulling, apart, the cutting, the tearing, the shocks, each a revelation. steven

erin said...

whosoever says there is no such thing as synchronicity...i just posted (moments ago) a bit on violence that i wrote after watching the movie Water. this synchronicity between us is wild, time and time again, but then this is what life shows us.

ian asked the other day, what if the injustices do not balance the joy? i have no answer.

your imagery is perfect for me, ruth, a well meaning gore of a fruit upon a non disputable white plate.


Ruth said...

steven, what ever we give our attention to, provides some kind of insight. Thanks!

erin, I truly love sharing our synchronicity. I learn from you constantly. You are a window. I'll come over and see what you've written.xoxo

Matt D said...

I drowned in this one -- exceptionally fine writing.

Ruth said...

Matt, welcome, and oh thank you for those wonderful words.

Leena said...

Warm greetings from freezing Finland!
You give and warm so much by your words, Ruth!
Happy weekend to you and yours!
Are you going to see him this weekend or are you going only miss terribly him - you know, whom I mean :)

Ruth said...

Oh Leena! Thank you for your very warm visit. So terrible, the cold there! Please take care and don't go out, even for photos, unless you are bundled up. Well, you're a grandmother, you know.

Yes, I will be holding him in just a few hours. :-) How I have longed for him all week!

Peter said...

The difficulty to understand the link between dreams and reality! If one could just have nice dreams, and during the day "dream" about nice things to do, like seeing a grandchild (or several)! :-) Enjoy your weekend!

Marcie said... wondering about the connections between your unconscious dreams and your conscious day. What an evocative piece!!

Reena Walkling said...

As always, powerful and deep.

Ruth said...

Peter, bonjour! Merci, and you enjoy yours (and your grandchildren; I wonder when you will see them next).

Marcie, thank you for visiting. It was a strange week!

Hi, Reena, thanks for reading.

Peter Olson said...

Tomorrow ... and last Wednesday! :-)

Arti said...

This time reading your poem I understand why they are so powerful... your outright honesty. I know some are dreams, but some I think are reality, right? Like the anger towards a coworker. You don't hide the truth of your feelings, and that's what make your writing so precious. And of course, finding the most apt metaphors to express the human condition takes perceptive insights. Tarnishing a pure white dish with peels and roughage... I see the picture. Thanks for another thought-provoking poem, Ruth.

Stratoz said...

OK, that's intense. and thanks for the info about the jazz festival in Philly, we will support it.

ds said...

Oh, you've written a Dutch still life (not meant at all glibly)--all that violence contained in such beauty. Honest, unflinching, the pomegranate seeds, and the stain that never quite goes away. Fury, amid all those other emotions. Powerful indeed. Thank you.

Ginnie said...

I've finally read this, Ruth, after our Skype the other day. (sigh) I wonder which sister threw herself over the banister? :) Not that it's funny but I suddenly saw some levity in what surely must have felt like nightmares.

I read what Vagabonde wrote. Suddenly I wonder if the pain you have contibrutes to your dreams? Not the tin-can cut but the other that seems to live forever within your hands and arms.

It's now a new week and I hope you're off to a less painful start?!

shoreacres said...

How to say this? That worldly pain - the sharp cut of metal, the twisted limb - is sometimes the best antidote to the mysterious fears of the mind.

Because of my work, injuries come from time to time. Some are painful. Still, my relationship to the pain they bring has changed - I listen to it more closely, adjust myself to it. Do I like it? No. Do I long for it to leave? Absolutely. Still, the cut finger and the torn tendon remind me that I, too, am a living creature, and that healing is a marvel.

As is your poem.