Thursday, February 01, 2007

LIFE AS AN EQUATION

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All points revolving back to the same fixed center...gratitude. Though I failed in math--though I was the only one in my family growing up for whom numbers didn't sing. Sister? Electrical engineer turned math teacher...Older brother before he passed away? Majoring in engineering...Younger brother? Contentedly working as a mechanical engineer on equations where numbers have yielded to symbols and senselessness...Self? Majored in English and Women's Studies--teaching students how to read and write, how to get lost in the infinity of a story well-told...learning about culture and social forces and change.

Poetry and math don't intersect for me. You could argue about iambic pentameter all day long--counting out syllables like coins--or offer villanelles with their numeric structure. I will retreat into the light of a winter sunrise or the blue of my daughter's eyes when she's been crying--the free verse of the cottonwoods I've been missing lately. No numbers--just words and wings.

Synchronicity often has other ideas, and on the morning of the day the math and poetry prompt appeared, I had just picked up a book of poems from the stacks at the library and started indulging...the book's title a...number. 45 (forty-five) by Frieda Hughes. Daughter of Ted Hughes and infamous mother, Sylvia Plath, Frieda's fourth collection of poetry chronicles her life--one poem given for each year from 1960-2004. This idea, of writing one representative poem for each year of life has so inspired me...my notebooks fill with opaque images and vivid memories. Someday, maybe poems will emerge from this--or not. The scribbling subconscious self-excavation has been worth it in and of itself.

From Forty-Fifth Year, 2004
By Frieda Hughes

My daily joy in waking was new to me...
the hills
Were comforting, like green and earthy
Guardian whales. I was happy, still,
In our new home among the daffodils...
Working through two summers,
The dust and mayhem
And silly pheasants running, and the rain
Just stunning against the backdrop
Of Lebanese cedar that towered into the sky.
Our work took on new life, as we did.

In the garden I dug up and shifted
Earth and rock, and sculpted shapes
In which I planted flowers, shrubs, and trees,
Cementing rockeries in labyrinths,
Occupying my mind in the moments where
I'd like to leave the painful things behind.
Even recent history
Could not dampen my ardour
For this, our home,
A place for truth and clarity,
For peace and creativity
At last. Our sanctuary.


I see this expansive sense of sanctuary everywhere I look lately...beautiful images erupting just for me. Just because I thought to look for them. All of it--the history, the indefinable longing, the countless uncertainties seem to add up to this. Life--the way it is, broken and beautiful in equal measure. A gift.



*For more numbers visit Poetry Thursday...still not satisfied in your numerical quest? This lovely blogger let me know today that I have been nominated for the Share the Love Blog Awards in the Best Writing and Most Thought-provoking categories. If you'd like to add a vote for me, go here.* *
Link

20 Comments:

Anonymous kristen said...

I love your photos here so much Delia, especially the one of you (?) in your denim jacket. I loved your poetry choice today as well.

xo, k.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Left-handed Trees... said...

Sigh...Kristen--that's my Petunia in the photo. She is getting big much too quickly!
Love,
D.

5:55 PM  
Blogger pepektheassassin said...

I really enjoyed your post! I am not a numbers person either. My brother is a musician/composer, and uses numbers in an entirely "other" way. The fact that Freida Hughes is 45 (*gasp*) really makes me feel OLD!

6:35 PM  
Blogger January said...

Great poem antd post! I haven't read much of Freida Hughes' work but now I'm interested.

And, as always, beautiful photos!

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Paris Parfait said...

I like what you've done with this prompt - life as an equation. Very clever. I personally am not inspired to write a poem about math - a despised subject in school - although I appreciate numbers and their significance. Terrific series of photos!

8:17 PM  
Blogger Carolee said...

thanks for sharing your insights. i always enjoy reading. and good for you for bucking the math/science trend of your family. i'm also odd-man-out in my family, but for different reasons. reasons enough to keep my therapist booked up for years to come. :)

i love the image of counting words/syllables like coins!

9:16 PM  
Blogger ecm said...

beautiful photos and very interesting poetry concept...thanks for sharing

10:20 PM  
Blogger Regina Clare Jane said...

What a lovely poem! I will have to read more about Frieda! She should prove very interesting! And your pictures were lovely as well!

11:06 PM  
Blogger Rethabile said...

Pretty obvious why you've been nominated for the Share the Love Blog Awards. Nice post.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Becoming Amethyst said...

I didn't know Frieda's latest collection was out yet - though I checked Amazon and see that it's not out in paperback here until April, so that could be why it's off my radar. It such an inspiring prompt isn't it? A poem for every year...

And thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures and your dislike of the numbers, feet and syllable count in poetry (you're not the only one ;-))

With love x x x x

(P.S. Congrats on the nominations!!!!)

3:11 AM  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

your photo skills are truly blosoming...

i'm intrigued by the idea of writing a poem for each year...hmmmm...

2:36 PM  
Blogger tracey said...

Glad to know I wasn't the only person who nominated you!! You're up in two categories.

2:40 PM  
Blogger melba said...

I was not familiar their daughter was a poet. I have a thing for Sylvia, doesn't everybody?

Lovely post and pictures. As always!

I feel...hmmm not quite sure about blog awards. and if maybe someone makes them up to bring traffic to their own site? I know that sounds horrible that I am being so skeptical? Cynical?. When I first started blogging I thought awards were cool and started voting, but then there always seemed to be winners and losers and blogging is SO MUCH more than that.
despite my ambavilent feelings about awards I tried to access the site to vote for you and I was unable to vote...some error on page message came up.
(I really need a dictionary to fix this comment, but maggie just ran out of the bathroom with her pants off! and we need to pick ethan up from school)

You are always the best to me!!

XOXO,
Melba

2:43 PM  
Blogger Left-handed Trees... said...

Pepek: age is just a number as they say, right? (bad puns abounding today)

January: Frieda seems to have concentrated more on writing children's books than on poetry--and she's a well-known painter. (With parents like hers it's a wonder she ever made it to poetry at all! Talk about shadows...)

Paris Parfait: Thanks! I can relate...

Carolee: Aah...there's one in every family! What would we do without "black sheep"?

ecm: Thank you.

Regina: Frieda is interesting...filling in Plath and Hughes with a whole different perspective!

Rethabile: Thank you for the compliment...

bb: There's one coming out in the U.K. apparently that has the paintings she did with the poetry (one of these for each year also)...probably worth waiting for!

La Vie: You would certainly know about photography skills!

Tracey: you are so kind...I was glad to see you listed also.

Melba: I don't think you sound skeptical at all...I appreciate you for thinking of me!

3:09 PM  
Blogger G said...

Your prose and photos are poetry. Beautiful and inspiring thoughts, here; thank you.

4:05 PM  
Blogger .......deb said...

Your post was just what I needed today. Connected some lines for me, so it seems.

Photos, ruminations, Freida's poem...all lovely, especially "opaque images and vivid memories".

Thank you!

11:49 PM  
Anonymous GeL(Emerald Eyes) said...

Delightful treasure trove for this prompt. I always enjoy visiting here for the creative variety and "put my feet up " comfy feeling.

Gorgeous photos emanating your love for your children.
Love the bonus of a book to add to my reading list: I wasn't aware Plath's daughter had written poetry. What a wonderful find. Thanks for sharing her work!

3:06 AM  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...

Beautiful photos! Glad I got here from PT!

gautami.
Do chk my post...Straight Curves.

3:35 AM  
Blogger [a} said...

You've introduced me to a new, interesting poet, thanks.

" No numbers--just words and wings."

:)


What was that saying? Look and ye shall find...I think.
xoxo

3:58 PM  
Blogger daisies said...

how absolutely wonderful :)

6:26 PM  

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