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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To be, so unlike another

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To be, so unlike another

Discomfited in a room where I
have never been nor will ever be.
No lace. No flowers. Unrecognizable
to myself. Yet bending

to sit in your imagined chair
by your particular window.
Mountain witness, sea air. A series
of paintings in red and blue by Hokusai.

How much useless effort I have spent
climbing into that chair.
Or marching against the wind
of your breath, not floating in it.

I accept at last my discomfiture
with myself, with you; never mind,
and run alone through slats of sun
with cavorting birds who are anything

but silent. Free to say that I want to love
myself the way I want you to love me:
Under song. In and out of tree-stripe
shadows, one limb after another.

As far as the sun’s eye sees along
a flat land where orange hawkweeds
swell in the random mist of spider laces.
In the morning. In the morning.

May 2012

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40 comments:

hedgewitch said...

So much of what we seek in the Other is what we are looking for in ourselves, for ourselves. This whole poem speaks to me Ruth, but especially that second stanza--making a march out of a float...trying to go where one can't...perhaps that yearning for the impossible is part of some sort of emotional cardio that keeps our hearts alive. I'm the last one to know, but I know I love this piece.

Pat said...

I am not very good at interpreting poems, but I can appreciate the beauty of them. So much beautiful imagery in here - "run alone through slats of sun", "in and out of tree- stripe shadows". Ah, so beautiful.

To me this poem means that you (taking the place of "I" in the poem) were trying to change to fit the liking of another person. Then you realized it wouldn't work. You learned to love yourself for who you are and you accepted that fact. You will not change; that you want the person to love you for who you are.

Anywhere close to the real meaning?

Kathleen said...

I love how the lace in the beginning seems to be in an interior (& imagined) room, and is transformed in the end to "spider laces," a freedom in the exterior room of the world...

Grandmother said...

It's how we come to love ourselves isn't it? One limb after another. And what a truth to learn- that we look for love to come from another but then come to know that, alas, it must come from us. I love the images in this, like a flat land where orange hawkweeds swell.

missing moments said...

Another beautiful verse ... do we ever know another?

Nelson said...

In the morning.

The sun sees another day and the birds sing to another day.

In the morning.

Look. And listen. Float and run free.

Ruthie, I'm enveloped with the emotional power of this poetic vision of coming to terms with discomfiture.

Thank you.

rosaria williams said...

"...I want to love myself the way I want you to love me."

This line shows me the bone, the title of the poem is bared here.

The Solitary Walker said...

Ruth, this is a wonderful poem, and I enjoyed it immensely.

"Bending'. "useless effort", "against the wind" . . . and then you try to come to terms with this "discomfiture" . . . "I accept", "never mind" . . and you "run alone" . . . into song, in and out of shadow, into sun, into nature, into morning.

"Free to say that I want to love myself the way I want you to love me." This is the crux of this poem, the beginning of a freedom of self-liberation and non-attachment. But of course we all remain attached, and we are all different, with different wishes and needs and desires, which require compromise, and there's the rub.

Miss Jane said...

Yes, omg, yes. I about fell out of that difficult chair myself reading this--so challenging somehow to just float; we really want to run and thrash about.
Lovely, Ruth

Mystic Meandering said...

Beautiful and powerful imagery! Knowing we cannot see how others see, and yet we try - to see as others do, sitting at their window, at the expense of our own view, needing their approval. I love the imagery of trying to fit into other rooms, and chairs and views that we know we don't fit into - just trying to be loved by others in a way that makes us feel comfortable with who we are... That for me is the message that I take away here, to stop trying to fit into what others want us to be and just be who we are... And, that beautiful poignant line: "Free to say that I want to love myself the way I want you to love me." Oh yes! Don't we all! Deeply resonating with the whole poem... Love to you! :)

Louise Gallagher said...

Your poetry always awakens a yearning in me to slip into something more comfortable - like peace, or tranquility, or... Love

Beautiful. But then, your words always create beauty.

The Unknowngnome said...

Free to be unlike another but yourself.

This poem is beautiful! It surpasses the mountainous sea of Hokusai.

From starkness to as far as the sun's eye sees you sing. Oh such love the morning brings. (Look, you have me singing too :)

Shari said...

Makes me think of my father.

George said...

This is both beautiful and poignant, Ruth. The lines that resonated with me were those concerning the "useless effort" of "marching against the wind . . . not floating with it." And, of course, like others, I am quite moved by the challenge to love ourselves as we want others—perhaps the Divine—to love us.

Ruth said...

Hedge, I truly love your insight: emotional cardio! I need to meditate on that. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Pat, brava! This poem began after I visited an old friend on Facebook, someone I've lost contact with for the most part. It seems that each time I encounter him—a painter and philosopher—I feel inferior of mind, lifestyle, outlook, etc. It has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with me. But there is a little of a lot of "others" in this poem, too. Thanks first for your attempt at understanding the poem, and second for getting it.

Ruth said...

Kathleen, thanks for reading, and spotting that lace echo.

Ruth said...

Mary, it seems that at age 55 I would know this deeply by now, yet I still have to exercise mental and emotional gymnastics to remind myself. But guess what, I'm getting more limber! Thanks for reading and your kind words.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Reena. To answer your rhetorical question, I don't think so. And this poem is also about knowing myself, at last.

Ruth said...

Nelson, and in turn the emotional power of your comment envelopes me. Thank you.

I am beginning to see how much morning is my time, and I have little left by evening. Maybe that is also about the evening of my life, though I'm still not old, but definitely slowing. Understanding myself partly means I can make the most of the strengths I have now.

Ruth said...

rosaria, yes, and thank you.

Ruth said...

Robert, it does me good for you to share the power of these steps. With maturity comes understanding, of the difference between compromise and death. It seems to be taking me a long time to get out of the "death of self" trap instilled at a young age (whether it was truly my parents' doing is also a good question; what it just me?). Thank you so much for your close and enthusiastic reading!

Ruth said...

Thanks, MJ. I felt a bit bare putting this out here. But having you, and others, respond to it in recognition is very helpful.

Ruth said...

Christine, thanks so much for reading and finding those wonderful connections with my poem. It means a lot to me that this resonates with you and others, as it's a difficult truth to admit. I think it is drilled into us that focusing on ourselves is narcissistic, and so we avoid it. But if we know and love ourselves, we are far better equipped to love another.

Ruth said...

Louise, what a delicious way to put that, slipping into something more comfortable - like peace, or tranquility, or... Love. You have created beauty here, as you always do. Namaste, my friend.

Ruth said...

Gnome, how can I thank you for singing with me? There is so much joy for me in your echo.

Ruth said...

Shari, now you have me conjuring stories.

Ruth said...

George, leave it to you to discern something deeper here: the Divine. I had not consciously intended or found that layer, and when I reread the poem, I felt a restraint slip off me, like a slipcover. Thank you for making this bigger.

Shari said...

Problems with alcohol. Committed suicide when I was 15.

Arti said...

Reading your poem makes me think of the Biblical reference: "Love your neighbor as yourself". So true, our relation with the outside world and others depends so much on our relation with ourselves. Ruth, thank you so much for the insightful comment you left on my post after you've seen the Marigold Hotel. I'm much gratified to read what poetic eyes can see... more depth, more sensitivity, more colors...

Vagabonde said...

First I’d like to tell you that while looking in an old bag full of books I found a poetry anthology and there were several Roethke’s poems in it. Then I found a very slim book of 49 poems of W. H. Davies, beautifully illustrated, published in 1928. I did not know I had either of these books – must have bought them decades ago.
I am not sure about this poem – it almost feel like you are insecure about yourself. Sometimes other people by their act or even thoughts place a light on you that you don’t like – let it pass, it is just as if you threw a pebble in the water – your image would appear indistinct, but soon after the wave ceases and the surface is brilliant again. Don’t let these thoughts discourage you or ideas from other people bother you. You are unique.

Ruth said...

Oh, dear Shari, I'm so sorry.

Ruth said...

Arti, there is much life and wisdom contained in that biblical reference. Thanks for letting me pontificate on the film at your place. It really captivated me. I was able to eat Indian with my Indian friend yesterday for lunch. I needed it! :-)

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, somehow it does not surprise me that in your thousands of volumes you found Roethke! The illustrated book with Davies poems sounds wonderful.

Thanks for your response to the poem. Yes, there are times when I have been insecure in the "presence" of those whom I admire, or feel intimidated by. The poem is about a lifelong exercise toward understanding myself, recognizing my own strengths and making the most of them.

Marcie said...

This is beautiful! Brought tears to my eyes - thinking of wanting to love oneself in the same ways that others love. Really....

erin said...

sweet vulnerable you. we're all looking to be healed, aren't we? (what is that? what is that?)

xo
erin

Jeanie said...

This poem is both poignant and powerful and touches me deeply. I want to love myself the way I want others to love me. I'm not sure it's possible, but I can't think of any way it could be better said.

Margaret said...

"How much useless effort I have spent
climbing into that chair."

What is the exact age when we just feel comfortable in our own skin? I'm still waiting.

Just lovely!

Barb said...

"Discomfitted" but finally "Free to say that I want to love myself the way I want you to love me"

Your poem reminds me that we are in charge of hopes for ourselves. And change.

Ginnie said...

I wonder if some of us wrestle with this more than others, Ruth? I think of David, the Psalmist, again. The poets maybe struggle the most? The poets and the artists. Think about Mom. Think about Dad.

I know what this feels like....