Sunday, May 17, 2009

GETTING BY




GETTING BY


In the cold regions -
in the sad and lonely
youth-killing regions,
where cheap paneling
is everyone’s answer,
the roads are arms and legs,
the hills are hips and thighs,
the fields are backs
and the destination
is the back of a head.


Here, the trucks and cars
don’t need oil and gas.
They are pushed along the roads
by young children who want
to be with their mothers.


The roll and drone
of the vehicles soothe
the ragged nerves and
relieve the sore muscles
of the mothers, who, for their
children’s entertainment, walk
back and forth for miles a day
casting stones into make-believe
streams, until they give out
on purple horsehair sofas.


With eyes closed against their pain,
the mothers are happy just to know
where their children are playing,
and fall into a deep sleep,
devoid of worry and fear.

26 comments:

Linda S. Socha said...

I can so tell the reality of this poem dream......Well Done K
Linda

Minister of the Masochistic Truth said...

Did you intend the mosaic - a picture put together of various shards, on purpose, or was that jst a really cool coincidence. Thie piece oozes with pain.

The opening few lines:

In the cold regions -
in the sad and lonely
youth-killing regions,
where cheap paneling
is everyone’s answer


can be taken as a literal death or a figurative death killing what it is to be young under these circumstances.

I still haven't decided where this takes place: a Third World country, the impoverished areas of America.

...I'll have to ponder on that one a wee bit more...

Best wishes!

Aniquez de los mil luces said...

Its a very sad yet such truthful depiction of shared reality.

You have gracefully shown their pain.

Great work K.

Catvibe said...

I think this takes place in a child's room, on a computer. This reminds me of the pain I felt when I realized my kids were addicted to computer games, and all the anguish I felt that it was really my own fault for allowing them to play so young, before their minds had developed. The last stanza is a familiar tune with mother's I have known, where fear rules and children are no longer allowed out to play because it is not 'safe' and instead are placed in front of a computer. You nailed this K.

the walking man said...

Wonderful is not the proper adjective for this writing but it is the one that applies. I don't see any specific place as much as I do the mothers "condition" as she goes through her day. Could be the hills of West Virginia or the canyons of New York City. It is a well told wonderful look into what moms do and have done for centuries.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Linda - thank you, as always!


Minister - Well, thanks, I thought the artwork might work well with the poem. I wrote the poem and then looked through my pictures to see what would compliment it. I took this picture in Philly a couple of years ago. The opening lines are figurative - young women becoming old before their time, for many different reasons - I thought poverty mostly. And, yes, impoverished areas in America.
Great to read your insightful remarks. Thanks a bunch.



Hi Aniquez - I appreciate your thoughtful comments.


Cat - that is why I love poetry so much. Each person can extract his/her own truth and/or meaning. I love your take on it. Saying that parenting is not an easy job, is an understatement of monumental proportions. I am sure you were a very conscientious and loving mother, when your kids were growing up - and continue to be to this day. We can blame ourselves for a lot - mother's are good at feeling guilty, but, don't be so hard on yourself. Thanks, Cat.


Walking Man - Yes, It could be any mother anywhere. I remembering being so tired in the late afternoon - that I just wanted to lie down for a few minutes before making supper. I would tell my toddlers to pretend my legs and arms were roads, as I reclined on the couch. They would roll their little toy cars on me. Not only did it feel good on my tired legs and arms, but it kept them close and busy for a while. Thank you so much for your astute reflections.

trooping with crows said...

Hi Mom,
Knowing the true meaning of this poem makes it so interesting to read everyone's interpretation of it. Hard to believe that I am a young mother now, when this memory does not feel so distant.
I love you!

Karen said...

k. - While I can see the sadness in this, with the "cold regions..the sad and lonely youth-killing regions," I also see life-affirming relationships, where mothers spend their time participating in their children's make-believe, exhausted though they may be by the circumstances of their lives. The last stanza summarizes much of our feelings as mothers - we just want to know that our children are nearby and safe.

You are such a talented poet.

Margaret said...

It's not always an easy job, bringing up children, especially if it's in a difficult region.

But your poem brings out the unity that's developed between mother and child during difficult times.

K. You really know how to put the words together!

jason evans said...

Where cheap panelling is everyone's answer.Loved that!

You capture rural life with eloquence, but also with a raw grab.

Selchie said...

love the body landscape imagery, carried me away. I totally get the worn out afternoon toddler feeling. Ah for sleep...

Lovely.)

Sarah.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Riss - It doesn't seem that long ago at all. I guess it isn't - in the scheme of things!
I so loved those halcyon days with all of you - when "we" were young and all of you were just little ones. So sweet the days - and the best years ever. I have enjoyed all the years, of course. It's all been magical. Thanks and love back.



Karen - Yes, that's it. Thank you for your lovely critique. Your insight is always perceptive and discerning.



Margaret - many thanks for those very nice comments. This poem has been embellished for interest's sake. But, the part about the toy cars, and legs and arms being roads is true. It's the only way I could get 10 minutes of rest! ;)



Jason, I appreciate your enthusiasm for that line. Thanks for the great comment.



Sarah - ah, so you can relate? You should try the car trick. LOL! Thank you so much for your thoughts.

Ghost Dansing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ghost Dansing said...

in the momentary serenity of this mother's matchbox heaven a small road to hope.....

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Ghost Dansing...Awww, perfect! You always have the best addendums. Thanks!

Julie said...

Excellent poem!! I originally thought it was about a war torn region and the hardships that mothers have faced in "other" places or times. Then I thought about the areas I've seen in the US that look like war torn areas because of drugs, poverty, or violence. It made me feel so much sympathy for parents who try to raise children in any rough area.

Then I read your comments, and I love how, like you say, we can take our own interpretations from the read. I love Cat's interpretation, too.

The images of the trucks and cars is fabulous! I had a whole story going in my head with that one. I also love the make-believe streams, the cheap paneling, and all of those powerful images.

You've done it again, K. Absolutely wonderful work!

Julie said...

I also have to add that I agree with you about Cat. I like the video game interpretation, but Cat, I'm sure you're a wonderful mother!! You've got a heart as big as all outdoors, and that's what it takes.

Thanks, K. Your poems are awesome, and your conversations here are always stimulating. That's a double bonus:)

joaquin carvel said...

i'm not sure how you do this - evoke such clear and vibrant images and still leave so much to a reader's imagination / experience - but i deeply admire your ability to do it.

something in the first stanza made me think of somewhere institutional, like a prison or a hospital - distance and fences and the strained and fleeting moments children and mothers may have with each other in them. there is just such a tension and weariness in it - and i love how it floats to a close - a faint smile on a sleeping face, seems to me.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Julie - I sure do appreciate your unwavering support of my efforts. It is good to be in the company of writers, who know what it is to scratch and scribble upon the page - our thoughts and feelings coming together in some semblance of poetry and prose. What I love is that nothing really needs to be explained really...we all just know. Whatever truth or meaning can be found in a work is truly in the eye of the reader. What good would it be, if we couldn't glean what we wanted? That's what makes poety such a special art - it is to be interpreted by the reader. I guess that is true of many artforms. Thanks for your astute input. You set me to thinking. I always, always enjoy your visits here.




Joaquin, your interpretations are always so interesting and thought provoking.

"...there is just such a tension and weariness in it - and i love how it floats to a close - a faint smile on a sleeping face, seems to me."

Yes, exactly.

I appreciate your compliments on this poem and my work in general. It means a lot to me that my efforts pay off now and then - and I deem it high praise, when a poet as fine as yourself, sees something worthy in my words. Thank you, as ever.

Bob said...

Kaye, this is one of the most outstandind poems of yours I have ever read... first, I know it's great cause I'm jealous of so many lines, lol... but the imagery and wording... just, wow... amazing work, Kaye, truly!! I've enjoyed catching up on all your recent poems this morning, sorry for being away so much... take care!

Sarah Hina said...

I most enjoyed the overlapping of the mother's body with the children's journey. It can feel so often like that. We do, do, do, but sometimes we can just slip into their imaginations, and be a part of the story, too. Those are precious, forgiving moments.

Such a wonderful mixture of happiness and sadness here, K. But such is the path of life, which you so vividly and truthfully reflect in your work. I loved this one.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Aww, Bob, thank tons! You always make me laugh when you say you are jealous of lines or of a poem. I know just how you feel. I am always envious of your work!!! ;D

Glad you had a chance to stop in. You are still wowing me over at your place. I'll be over later.



Hi, Sarah - thank you for your constant understanding of my work. I am so appreciative of your willings to reflect and remark in a way that lifts me up! Thank you, friend.

How are things coming along with your new project?

Vesper said...

In the cold regions -
in the sad and lonely
youth-killing regions
Cold can have so many meanings... I love it how you find warmth in it within the immutable mother-child relationship. This is a beautiful, beautiful poem, Kaye.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Vesper - I appreciate your kind words. Yes, "cold" does have many connotations. That mother/child relationship is beyond what can be explained. Many women have been "saved," I would venture, by having to survive for their children. Thanks!

Sarah Hina said...

K, the new novel is really coming along. I'm outlining it right now, which is a departure for me, but I think the different strategy is working for me! I can't wait to share more about the process as I dive deeper.

Thank you so much for asking!! I'm truly grateful for your constant encouragement and support. :)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Sarah - :D