Feelings are like precious metals mingled and trapped in rocks. They’re not always valuable in their raw form. They must be processed and refined to become something beautiful.
Writing poems has provided many writers a way to process and refine emotions. My own poems reflect all sorts of states: worship, whimsy, rage, rapture…poems are passion pendulums swinging all over the place.
Grief has provided me with poetic ore many times in my life. Below is a poem I wrote after my grandmother died. It appeared in my first book, The Wind and the Shadows.
My grandmother was an accomplished painter so painting was a theme in more than one of the poems I wrote after she died. I’m thankful to have some of her paintings so that, from time to time, I can pause to remember what a gift she was.
Frames of Dust An autumn wood, a billy goat, a Japanese woman, a scroungy old cat, a piece of driftwood on the beach… Still lives, portraits, painted by grandma now laid on the couch, now leaning against the piano, now in piles with all the other things we are sorting through, trying to decide what to keep and what to discard. And how do you make such a choice? How do you mark off borders for a whole life? What stays in the field of view, and what is excluded? It depends on your perspective. My interest is in the paintings. I hoped to have a few, and, surprisingly, no one wants the ones I like. The next morning, we pack our treasures into cars and prepare to leave. Life goes on. Before leaving, I take one more look to make sure we left nothing behind. My eyes trace phantoms of knick-knacks, depressions in the carpet, and the walls, where the dust that accumulated on the edges of each painting now frames empty spaces.