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...
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.* *