Monday, February 25, 2013

I belong to winter

I am a book of snow, a spacious hand, an open meadow,
a circle that waits,
I belong to the earth and its winter.

~ Pablo Neruda

I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the
hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you
with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.

~ Jorge Luis Borges

I am not like
other people
other people are like
other people.

they are all alike;

they are both gleeful
and content and I am
burning in hell.

my heart is a thousand years old.
I am not like
other people.

~ Charles Bukowski

I found the above poem on The School of Life this morning. What caught my eye was the heading, "Living with a Creative Mind."  All the talk of thin skins there, reminded me of a poem I wrote ages ago in Red Velvet Forest.  


by Shawna Lemay

I won't lie. I began.
For a long while I worked on the jewelled scales.
I studied the epidermises of crocodiles, salamanders
in particular salamanders.
Once I even almost entered the flames.
Not yet thick enough.
I carried on.

Now I find it difficult, awkwardly personal
to describe how it came to be
that I welded steel and quaver set stones naked.
I made headway. If I'd continued
I'd be speaking to you now from out of the flames.

But why not make it a point to consider advice
to the contrary?
I only had to ask myself what precisely it mattered
whether beneath thick or thin
that the humiliation would be draped?

My skin becomes taut
you can almost see through it held up so to the sun
though the scraping goes on.
The scars, luckily, for the most part, are off to the edges
so it only remains to be seen
whether my reinvention will be in folio, quarto, or octavo.

The poem was a response at the time to a few people telling me I ought to grow a thicker skin, and my thinking how that would affect the writing, even if it could be accomplished. 

I think what I most like about winter is that somehow, it's possible to be thinned out in this bare season, pared down. More possible to live with uncertainty, more possible to feel that our hearts are a thousand years old. Our seeing is pared down. So too, our being....


  1. This is what winter is for. The going in deep and dark, leaving bareness at the surface. The artist mind/soul revels in this time. It's ours. We understand the gift of inner solitude. Externally anything can snap brittle and fall away unmissed, yet noticed. This is an absolutely lovely post. Thank you Shawna.


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