Monday, December 27, 2010

"...let in the light that answers your desire..."

The Sea's Wash In The Hollow Of The Heart...

Turn from that road's beguiling ease; return

to your hunger's turret.  Enter, climb the stair

chill with disuse, where the croaking toad of time

regards from shimmering eyes your slow ascent

and the drip, drip, of darkness glimmers on the stone

to show you how your longing waits alone.

What alchemy shines from under that shut door,

spinning out gold from the hollow of the heart?

Enter the turret of your love, and lie

close in the arms of the sea;  let in new suns

that beat and echo in the mind like sounds

risen from sunken cities lost to fear;

let in the light that answers your desire

awakening at midnight with the fire,

until its magic burns the wavering sea

and flames caress the windows of your tower.

~ Denise Levertov

I want to "let in new suns that beat and echo in the mind" in 2011.  One of them (now don't laugh!) is to write a book.  It is a project about which I am conflicted, for it will mean the minuscule relationship I have with a cherished member of my family of origin will certainly become totally negligible.  Anyway, I tell myself  "one step at a time", I can fan the flame of my desire and allow the alchemy of the words for now ... publication is another project altogether.  

What neglected longing lies waiting in the hollow of your heart, that you could spin into gold in 2011?

This is a photo of the actual obelisk I see from my dining room window,
digitally edited here to look like a painting.
It is the stone structure you see behind the woman
in the first image of this post, that I use to represent
Levertov's 'turret/tower'.


  1. bonnie i greatly admire levertov's writing. if your own writing is destined to be cathartic then you likely should forge ahead regardless but perhaps there is a balance that can be or may eventually be struck between its content and the form of your relationship with the "cherished member" of your family. best wishes for this work. steven

  2. Write it, write it. I'm trying to write a book too, but have hardly started the research stage yet, as 2010 was a fraught year. Here's to both our books in 2011.

    Btw, I like Levertov also. Though I find her uneven, I think that's all part of what she represents. The spiritual does not always come easy. I've quoted a few of her poems on my own blog.

  3. chase that desire...wonderful verse...think i might write this one down to go back there are passions i have let wain and the regular reminder might goad me...

  4. steven - wise words. I have sought balance and understanding for years. People who are schooled to be afraid of divergent points of view and to shun those who hold them are too stuck in a limited world view to welcome or find 'balance'. So sad ... and frustrating. I do not want to write about the member of my family, but I do want to write about what we were schooled to believe, and this will surely offend. So as I was originally raised to stifle debate, do I repress my own voice to preserve relationships, or do I follow the calling of my heart and speak my truth, hoping that information may help others? It is a painful dilemma.

  5. Robert (The Solitary Walker): Thank you for the enthusiastic encouragement! I have done any research I need to do, and am all ready on so many levels to begin. But the price could be high.

    Funny Robert, I was reading a lot of Levertov yesterday and I had the same reaction you describe, finding her work 'uneven'. I did not find that word to describe it then - thank you for providing it for me now. I was simply aware of feeling flat after certain of her poems - and inspired after others.

    Here's to your project!!! Do keep me posted!

  6. I love your obelisk. I have wanted to do a series of them, or stele, in glass for a long time. Just haven't figured out yet how to do them the way I want them to look.

  7. Brian: Yes! Let them 'rise from sunken cities lost to fear', or whatever the obstacle might be. I think I shall follow your example and print this poem out as a reminder too.

  8. Ellen: Thank you. It is a part of the stonework found all over our property built by our stone mason neighbor before he sold off pieces of his land. He has Egyptian hieroglyphics imbedded at about the four foot mark. I have recently wondered if he is a Free Mason ... shall have to ask the next time we cross paths.

  9. Oh Bonnie, I can not wait to read the book you will write! Remaining silent doesn't do any favours for anyone Especially calling the emperor handsome in his new clothes...the lies, the fear, the child abuse must be told- Your writing is superb- You will reach many. The family in which you were born is not a choice- if they come around - great- especially for them- if they remain in their contrived frightened existence, that is sad for them but at least you gave it a good shot.( with the truth gun!)Can't wait!!!

  10. Linda Sue: You make me smile, as always! I will remember your words "give it a good shot - with the truth gun". It is more fitting than you might guess, as this sect, among themselves, speak of their religion as "the truth" - e.g. "Was he raised in the truth?" "Did she leave the truth?" "I hope she finds her way back to the truth." Hard to ever listen to another point of view when you are so convinced you possess THE god-given truth.

  11. "So as I was originally raised to stifle debate, do I repress my own voice to preserve relationships, or do I follow the calling of my heart and speak my truth, hoping that information may help others?"

    Would fictionalizing your experience solve this problem? Maybe you don't want to write fiction, but I think it could allow you to be brutally honest and explore the situation thoroughly while preserving real world relationships.

  12. The photo of the woman and the turret is hauntingly lovely Bonnie. Write what you will and let the chips fall where they may. That is advice from someone not involved in the emotion, though.

  13. Dear Bonnie,
    You are right - the writing and the publishing are two different things, require two different sorts of courage. Possibly the publication aspect, in this case, is acting as a premature critic.

    This story is of course what is important - for now, do you feel that the way to honor it is to write it? In order for the story to attain its true form, I think you have to remove that pressure to publish from the picture - it may arrive as a series of journal entries, paintings, a book-length manuscript, but whatever form it takes, you don't have to decide what will become of it at this point.

    All my good-writing wishes to you as you grapple with this. As you know, I'm always in this same boat with my writing and so have to just ignore the "threat" of publishing in order to be brave enough to write.

  14. Dan: You are a great creative thinker! The thing is whether I write my own experience or fictionalize it, I would still be writing about my sibling's apocalyptic, fundamentalist beliefs - and for her that's anathema. I do appreciate the suggestion Dan!

  15. Sandra: I'm glad you like the image. I had fun making it. I've been holding off 'letting the chips fall where they may' hoping that my sibling might be more responsive to my outreach - however she is told I am an 'apostate' and not to be associated with - and there is minimal response that comes from her - even less now that our mother is dead. So your advice is seeming more and more like the thing to do since writing down my experience and perceptions won't change much anyway ...

  16. neighbor: How very insightful. It is true, that whenever I imagine the form I might give what I want to write, my mind jumps to seeing my sibling holding 'the book' and making a decision that I must be cut off. That is a fantasy - the book and the cutting off. I do not know that will happen - and yet I allow it to stir up deep concerns and inner conflicts.

    She is the last member of my family that still has any contact with me, because I left their religion. Having already been rejected by all and sundry, it is difficult to imagine alienating her to the degree she would cut off all communication. Yet she has already done that to a large degree.

    Asking whether I feel the need to honor my own story in this way, is a good question. I'm not sure the impulse is about honoring my own story, so I will explore what other motivations may be lurking beneath the surface and if they are worth the price I might pay.

    I appreciate your feedback neighbor.

  17. I hope you accomplish that goal! I've had that goal on the back burner for awhile. I need to move it forward, too. My main goal, though, is to take better care of myself this year.

  18. Dear Bonnie,
    I wonder if a compromised ground is available for Bonnie. Sure, I assume already Bonnie has thought of them all. But some examples I can think of. If a person just wants to spin out emotions or pains, a diary is another option. If an author intends to publish work and respects privacy for related people, a posthumous book is another option.

    Please look into your heart and ask yourself, why you’d like to publish a book, not only a “high price,” but also a “huge risk” for your life, too. Behind an answer, a person has the real reason.

    Privacy is always the problem of writing such as a biography. The book will disclose an author and all involved people’s private lives to society. It sounds that Bonnie has been suffering for ages and bravely picked up a pen.

    It is very good to spin out the past, calmly observe herself and sublimate pains for literature. An author can set herself free from the painful past and step into a bright future full of hope. Keep writing, Bonnie.
    (*Publishing requires a commercial benefit and a different topic. So, let an editor judge it.)

    Sorry, but hope my sloppy writing will make sense and some comfort for you.
    Please rest well, take care and take a time lot to make a decision.

    Kind regards,

  19. I can relate to the feelings you have about your project :) I've often thought the topic I'd have the most to say something about is one in which the brutal honesty would not be appreciated, nor understood. For me, now is not the time to tackle it, but yes, there is a project in there. I liked Dan's suggestion of fictionalizing the story, I too have at times pondered that possibility.

  20. The first time I visited your blog the energy of your words captivated me. Your words were speaking of things I could relate to but I didn't know how to verbalize. I always leave your blog a bit wiser with a few Ahas thrown in!

    Whatever you decide to do with this book relationships will change. Your relationship with Self and that of your sister. But what ends also brings.

    For your audience I hope you write this book (I'm thinking of me, here, and how I'd enjoy reading it!). Or perhaps all you needed was to think about writing the book to open a new dialogue within you. Sometimes just thinking or imagining is all we need to move forward.

  21. Sadami: Thank you for such a thought-full and sweet response. You offer a lot of interesting suggestions. Actually, the thought of totally losing my sister is the only piece that is painful for me anymore. I have done a lot of emotional processing over the years and I do not want to write to discharge pain, anger or sadness. I would like to offer some resources and concrete help that I could have used when exiting that religion - while I tell my story. My hope is that the book could be a useful resource to others contemplating leaving or who have already left and are feeling the emotional after effects and affects. I do not want to sublimate or express, I want to tell a story and help. Questions, as you suggest, about true motivation are always important and I will think on that. Thank you! (P.S. I prefer to be alive when and if it is published.)

  22. Vicky: Yes, I feel/felt the same. For many years I knew the timing was not right - so I spent that time gathering information, doing a bit of research ... but now the time feels right ... and the writing process takes time ... and as neighbor says I do not even have to think about publishing it yet.

  23. Gwynnie: So many delicious thoughts in your comment. Thank you! I love how you say whatever ends also brings. So true. And change will happen regardless. Thanks for the reminder!

    I have long believed your last two sentences. Making a project seem more real by verbalizing it does result in a refining of the goal and it does carry some momentum with it that pushes you closer to it. That said, sometimes our naescent ideas need to be kept close to the vest for a while - for just a raised eyebrow or a frown can discourage one from acting.

    Thanks again for your encouraging words Gwynnie!

  24. One Step at a Time is often good advice...
    Love the image!

  25. Missy: Yes - always good advice. Thanks.

  26. Pat: Oh, I would love to hear more!

  27. This is an ideal time of year to formulate several achievable and enriching goals. Best wishes on cultivating your writing muse.

  28. This poem is incredibly beautiful. Hunger, longing, the turret of the heart. It really speaks to me, and out of me somehow.

    Write the book, as you say, one step at a time. Orhan Pamuk spends 10 hours a day writing, and his average output for a day: half a page.


Comments are always read and appreciated.

(I am grateful for all awards received. However, I ask that this be an "award-free zone" and meme-free zone. Thanks for understanding!)