"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Well-Lived Life

We woke to a sheet of ice on everything, but the power held. We only seem to lose power in the summertime from the drain of air conditioning on the electric grid. But what a day—trees to cut and trim, cookies to bake, presents to wrap, bales of straw for the manger and some for the well pit so the pump doesn’t freeze, and wood for the furnace to keep Mum’s house toasty and Dad's arthritis at bay. And now an ice storm to set us back.

I moved my manuscript pages to make room for the Dickens Village (a huge inconvenience) and now they're stacked on my windowsill, stacked on my printer, stacked on my writing table, but I don’t want anyone looking at them. It feels raw, like running naked to the mailbox. No, I didn’t do that. I just don’t want unexpected company out for Christmas cheer walking in the back door and eyeing my stacks of manuscript pages in their disheveled state of revision. The curious questions, or worse, the weighted silence. I've just told you a secret. I'm putting it out there. I don’t want to be read. I want to be read.

Fig tree displaced from the Holy Land.
A nativity scene blown into the ditch
Everyone complains about time.
The end, she says, is near.
So bequeath me a blanket,
the one you just took off your bed.
That's all I want.
And the candle with no wick
in the bottom of the box of ornaments,
like a life well lived and now tucking itself in.
The old Christmas ornaments to a thrift shop?
That’s like pictures of other people’s ancestors
stacked in a corner at the local Goodwill.
Nobody wants that stuff.
Who are they without their frames?
It’s slowly dying without the heat of the Holy Land.
I throw a blanket over it at night
when the sun goes down
but this isn’t the Holy Land
and fig trees can't live on an unheated porch.
Here, holy is clean ground
and the No Toxic Spraying signs
we store in the milkhouse
for winter.

2 comments:

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

You touched a nerve--want to be read, don't want to be read. I feel the same. Sometimes I'm convinced writers swing recklessly from euphoria to dread, loving and hating their words.
The poem probes another nerve--the many faces of family, holiday and memory. Thanks for a thought-provoking read.

Yvonne said...

Thanks Tricia.

You nailed it-euphoria to dread, again and again.

At least we know we aren't alone. And there isn't anything I'd rather do.