Over at Poetry Thursday, Jim Brock has invited us to share lines of poetry that are particularly meaningful for us. In Jim's words:
lines, by a poet that stayed with you, that you could not let go for the life of you, and then in a paragraph (or two), describe a moment when these words arose in your life in which they brought you understanding, insight, solace, reconciliation, or comfort.
To me, reading this, I felt we were being asked to share not just favourite lines, but lines that whether literally or figuratively, saved our lives. And at first, I couldn't think of anything. I didn't feel that poetry had affected me that much. I've had a comfortable life, after all. I'm a fairly level sort of person. I can balance a cheque book, come up with a rational explanation for most things, and a practical approach to most problems. I was bullied somewhat in primary school, (being a bit nerdy), but I remember my family and my childhood as happy. I think of myself, I realised, as one of those egg-shaped childrens toys with the weighted base, that wobbles when pushed but never falls over.
I have always had enough to eat, a roof over my head, access to medical care when I needed it, books and education. I've been married to the same man for (gulp - is it really that long?) thirty five years. Our children still like us, as far as I can tell.
And then, if I do have difficult emotions to deal with, I don't turn to poetry for solace. When I was younger my approach to crisis was to sleep a lot. More recently, I find the most effective way of getting through is vigourous uphill walks.
Thinking about this, I realised that it's my lack of needing to be saved that poetry has saved me from. My ordinary, steady life. Poetry has taught me to look for the beauty and wonder in things. And the strength, and the power, and to listen to my emotions even when they talk in whispers, and go underground after an hour or so in the spotlight. Poetry reminds me to be human.
As for the lines that stick with me, I can't say why exactly. But here they are:
I married the way moths marry
I married hard
by Olena Kalytiak Davis, from a poem called "In Defense of Marriage"
(I found this poem on the wonderful Poetry Daily website, a few years back, but unfortunately as they only archive the poems for a year, it's not online any more. I believe it can be found in her book titled "And Her Soul out of Nothing".)
For more life lines click here