Thursday, September 21, 2006

Poetry Thursday: My Authentic Self

I'm not sure how to take this week's prompt at Poetry Thursday. Last week we were asked to write as someone else. This week we are asked to "be yourself". Really, even when imagining someone else's voice, I believe I am being "myself". Even if I am trying to copy something I admire, I believe I am being myself, because the urge to do so comes from within me. I'm not sure what it really means to be authentic, or not.

This probably requires a greater subtlety of philosophical discussion than I am capable of, so instead of agonising over it, I'm just going to post a poem that I've been wanting to share for a while. This is part of a set of sonnets inspired by familiar ingredients in cooking. It also relates to the rather astonishing feeling that I am now older than my own mother (she died at the age of 52).

Kitchen Sonnet #3

In memoriam Margaret Miller 1925 – 1977

Sometimes I feel ten years old, watching you
in the kitchen. You are mixing mash for the hens.
I will feed them, gather the eggs, carry them
carefully into the house. Did you ever wonder
how eggs in the nest bear the warm weight
of the hen and do not break? Here I am now,
older than you ever were. I don’t feel wise,
but astonished to have arrived in this body.
Every year there is more I do not know.
There is so much I would still ask you, but
you would not know the answers, even if you could speak.
I am the child who has run ahead on the path.
I glance over my shoulder, you are no longer there.
I am as strong as eggshells, and ready to break open.

13 comments:

Brony said...

That was a nice poem. Speaks very honestly about one's relationship with his/her mother.

Michele says hi!

Tammy said...

This was lovely! I will be 45 on Sunday and my mom drowned at 44. This poem was in perfect timing :)

mar said...

You know, only the good die young. I liked your poem, the way you wrote it, the metaphors you used...very nice. Here via Michele's!

Susannah said...

this broke me open, like your eggshells.... very moving, and a joy to read. thank you x

che said...

great poem . i love it !

Deb R said...

Oh man, Catherine, this is so powerful to me. The last few lines made me gasp. THere's so much truth there.

srp said...

Here from Michele.

This poem... I had to read it four times... is wonderful! You've managed to put complex inner feelings into a word picture that says it all.

And the old cemetery, lovely pictures.

michelle said...

I love this poem, and every time I read it, I pause at this statement:

Did you ever wonder
how eggs in the nest bear the warm weight
of the hen and do not break?

The style reminds me of work by the poet James Tate. You should check out some of his pieces when you get a chance.

paris parfait said...

Such a beautiful, thoughtful poem - so many unanswered questions in life. Your poem depicts the mystery and longing wonderfully. Well done!

Kay Pere said...

Your poem is beautiful. It has such a sense of balance to it, a few, carefully chosen, vividly painted images to convey so much meaning. Nicely done!

:-), Kay

David said...

i like that,
of course I raised chickens for eggs for a while, so it has extra earthiness for me.
I miss my hens....

jsdaughter said...

How touching and beautiful..

liz elayne said...

i have been wondering about this poem since i saw your comment on PT. the image of the eggshells is one i think about often.

this poem speaks to me so much catherine. i greatly appreciate the way you share these memories and pieces of your past. i feel honored to read this today. thank you.

and i agree that both prompts are about the authentic voice...as lynn mentioned in her thursday post, some participants are new to poetry, especially to writing it, so this prompt was a way to invite them to peel back to the next layer and the next to find that authentic place.
anyway, so glad i stopped in for tea today. :)

liz