Sunday, December 14, 2008


Relief Sculpture by Merissa Garrison


I haul things.
I drag them behind me
from place to place,
from year to year.
They are becoming
a mountain of
casting a shadow
on all four sides of me.

the shadow on the first side

For years, I hid behind
burgundy flowers of dusty damask,
enclosed in a chamber of glass,
looking at the world
through my own fingerprints.
When the real sun had given up,
the artificial one would take its place
above the elm trees, stippled with disease.

the shadow on the second side

When I held myself up
in the afternoon light,
I saw my reflection on
the silver side of leaves.
The sun set my hair on fire,
which slowly baked my brain
and made me sleepy.
I drifted off to fairyland,
where everything sparkled
and where I felt inviolate.

the shadow on the third side.

We stayed for years under
a catalpa tree. I stretched
out beside you in spring,
summer, winter and fall.
Once, when I was heavy
with child, you planted
watermelons beneath the tree.
Soon, they were climbing the
rock wall and disturbing my sleep.

the shadow on the fourth side

My birthday came cold
and late in the day. My gifts
were a blue sky from Germany,
fans from the Orient, an owl
from the enchanted woods, and
words – given to me by an old
friend from the Netherlands,
to help me make it through
one more bleak winter.

I haul things.
I drag them behind me
from place to place,
from year to year.
They are becoming
a mountain of
casting a shadow
on all four sides of me.


Catvibe said...

Boy there is nothing like stuff to bring back memories. I've been unpacking for 6 months, and though I thought I had downsized and rid myself of almost everything, I apparently only did that in my imagination. However, every time I unpack things, I sit there and take a wonderful wander down memory lane. YOUR POEM, I love very much. I love your delicate way with words. Living in a shadow box with memories, we get to be art too. A very interesting concept.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful work, Kaye. And I applaud the ambitious structure!!

There are so many curios tucked away here. And insights to uncover.

Karen said...

I love how you structure the seasons of your life (remembrances now...shadows)and the turning from tentativeness to ripeness to remembrances. No better words were spoken than "Know thyself," and I think you truly do.

Dragging things behind us can be such a burden, but better, I think, than being doomed to forget.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Cat - Living in a shadow box... that IS what we do. Every person's memory is his/her private literature. Thank you for kind comments.

Jason - I appreciate the kudos. I wanted to use a different format with this one. Glad it seemed to work. Please feel free to dig around in the curios - that's what they are there for. Thanks, so much.

Karen - Nice to see how deeply you felt this. With you, I know it strikes a chord. I like the way you say - "from tentativeness to ripeness to remembrances." That is it exactly. I do drag them - but it is because I would be lost without them. ;)

gel said...

Hi K,
I'm here by clicking on your link from the waxing blog.

Excellent poetry. I'm enthralled by your story-telling poem, the structure, the awakening of my senses. I'm bookmarking you.
Happy to have found you.

another keeper of things because of kaleidoscope memories,

Sarah Hina said...

I love the progression here, marking the years with shadows that can consume, but also warm and support, us. We can't leave them behind...even the darker ones. We shape them, and they shape us.

The connection of the watermelon planting with your pregnancy was so perfect. And as always, I'm awed by your lovely and natural rhythm. You never overstep--it always feels true and authentically you, K.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Gel - Welcome to Old Mossy Moon. It is so nice to have you here. I am happy that my work resonates with you, and I appreciate your very generous remarks. I will be around to see you, as well. Thanks! ;)

Sarah - You are always so complimentary - thank you very much. I did work long and hard on this, so I am glad that it has been well received. lol about the watermelon and pregnancy. See, I told you that you always explain my poems to me! ** Blessings, dear friend.

Karen said...

One thing I love about this, too, is your choice of the word "haul." There's no mere carrying here; these memories have heft and weight.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Karen - yes, you are so right! I imagine myself dragging recollections with a great expenditure of energy - they are that significant.

trooping with crows said...

Oh, how things accumulate, memories being no exception. This poem is a true gem in it's uniqueness. I've never read anything quite like it. I love how it really is like four poems. Yet, they all correlate to perfection! I honestly don't know how you do it, you write the sort of things that I would want to write if I were a poet. (lol..does that make any sense?) If I had to pick a favorite line it would be

"When the real sun had given up,
the artificial one would take its place"


K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Trooping With Crows - Yeah, and the great thing about accumulating memories, is that we don't have to find space in our attics to store them.

I think you are more of a poet than you think. You certainly share the sentiments of a poet here - and I suspect you have the heart of one, too.

Thanks, as ever. So happy when I hear from you.

Vesper said...

I, too, haul things... some are real treasures, others just unwanted weight... Somehow I have to keep all of them with me.

Your poem is beautiful, K., ripe with meaning... "Haul" is a heavy word, perfectly chosen.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Vesper, Yes, I know what you mean...even if we could unload them, would we? Our memories, bad and good, are the stories of our lives. Thank you, Vesper. I always look forward to your sensitive & astute comments. ;)

Julie said...

I can't even begin to say how much I love this poem. Have you submitted it anywhere, K? Seriously, you should send it out! It is beautiful, powerful, and intriguing. I love the details. So many excellent images! Like planting the watermelon seeds beneath the on fire...the silver sides of the leaves.

I'm with Cat on the moving, too. She describes it well. We do haul those memories with us, don't we? And that brings to mind another thought. Your TITLE is perfect! I have trouble with titles, so I love seeing one that pulls the reader straight into the poem. Excellent work as always, K!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Julie - Many, many thanks! I haven't sent any poetry out in a while. But, hopefully - if I get ambitious, over the Christmas break, I will. Thanks for the encouragement. ;)

It's funny - I usually don't have any trouble with the titles - it's the rest of the poem that wrestles me to the ground!!!!

S.L. Corsua said...

Ditto to Sarah's and Julie's comments on this piece. All the praise is so well-deserved, K. The imagery is skillfully managed, especially as regards "the shadow" on the 'first' and 'third' sides.

Have a blessed new year, dear. Cheers.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

S.L. Sorry I was so long in responding. I have to figure that out, as applies to older posts.

Many thanks for the great commentary. I deem it high praise indeed coming from such a talented writer. I worked hard and long on this poem - perhaps even years....:)