Posts Tagged ‘parential influence’

“I Wonder…..”

May 1, 2012

Over the past few weeks I have been doing little except reading.  I have been reading, or trying to read, Wallace Steven’s “The Collected Poems” and  selected poems of William Stafford.

I have to say Stevens is the more convoluted poet, and I am not sitting easily in the reading of him; it’s a challenge but something I am dedicating time to do. I’ve ordered a couple of books of critique, or at least an ‘entrance’ into the mind of Stevens because he is far and away more difficult (to me)  than most poets of his time.  Some of his poems are absolutely  enchanting. Some I haven’t a clue as to what they mean.  But this is probably the way of most poets.

William Stafford is of a different cut. In an introduction by Robert Bly,he states that Stafford belongs in that catagory of artists the Japanese have named “national treasures”.  He also has this ‘theme’ of a golden thread: He believes whenever you set a detail down in language, it becomes the end of a thread…it will lead you to amazing poetic riches.  But don’t pull too hard on that thread, or it will break. (paraphrase of Robert Bly’s introduction in “The Darkness Around Us is Deep”)

I get that.  I can feel it in my bones.  Perhaps there is something so fundamentally ‘human’ about Stafford that he sings a universal song, or writes the universal poem.  I do know that his relationships with his parents, in poetic verse, hit me between the eyes.  It was very much a liberating experience to read.  It compelled me to dip  deeper and be more honest in my own attempts at understanding these two fundamental influences, not only in my life in general, but my poetry. “I Wonder….” is influenced by his own honesty, and his throwing out a particular golden thread.

Lady Nyo


I Wonder…..

I wonder about myself,

The mourning, the sorrow,

A low flame inside

Flaring with memory

Burrowing deep,

A shadow of flame

Intruding upon the day

Throwing me back

Into a murky past

Where I am rattled by its force

Its grip–

An unwelcome visitation.

I cover the sadness

With a silk blouse,

A mask for a face,

An unsteady smile.

Order for the outside

Hiding chaos within.

My father’s death had me

Travel from hatred to love

Finally understanding this old man

Who could not say “I love you”,

But did.

When he was close to death

I washed his body

Bathed this feeble old man,

Emptied of power, rage

Returned to innocence

Now forgivably human.

When my mother is dead, finally dead

Will I travel this same path

From hatred to love?

Will I rewrite history

Me to forget anger,

Her with an ember of love,

To end the remorse

To make more of a ‘mother’

To bury her with love?

I started out from love

And it grew to hate.

Life can do these things,

And when I aged

It started to reverse

Half way back.

But it never really makes the full circle

For the wounds are deep

And memories hurt like hell.

Perhaps only time will tell

In this fugue of life.

Perhaps it will come to be

A dull blanket of forgetfulness

Thrown over the past

That segues to forgiveness –

….in time.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012

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