I am exhausted- working all the time, one kid sick, heartache an unfortunate side effect of life right now. Divorce is a hard ambush and I’ve got more grey hair than ever. My house is a mess, but I did vacuum tonight. I’m eating cold chicken noodle soup at 9:50pm and that’s dinner. At least I remembered to pick up a bottle of wine. And that’s not all. I met today’s deadline. I returned emails and nursed my poor sick girl. Paid some bills and fed the cats. I am getting done what I need to get done. What I’d really like will happen in August. I’ll go home and see my parents. My dad will grill steaks and cook steamers, served with a good red. My mom will pick up peaches from the farm stand down the road, play Scrabble with me and the girls and give me a soft, tender place to land for a while. Until then, here’s a poem I just discovered tonight by Catherine Barnett. She had me at the first line.
So who mothers the mothers
who tend the hallways of mothers,
the spill of mothers, the smell of mothers,
who mend the eyes of mothers,
the lies of mothers scared
to turn on lights in basements
filled with mothers called by mothers in the dark,
the kin of mothers, the gin of mothers,
mothers out on bail,
who mothers the hail-mary mothers
asleep in their stockings
while the crows sing heigh ho carrion crow,
fol de riddle, lol de riddle,
carry on, carry on—
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23143#sthash.zySNPsIP.dpuf
I have always loved this poem by Sylvia Plath. It’s the first piece in Ariel and that makes the first word of the book love - a fact I read somewhere. The images of the cat’s mouth, the gold watch and moth-breath have always stood out. Once I had children, I understood the phrase “cow-heavy” and appreciate Plath’s use of the phrase because I doubt breastfeeding was a much discussed topic in the early 1960′s.
I discovered Plath through her novel The Bell Jar and all the dramatic pathos of her short life drew me in. But the poems are spectacular. Her work can be overwrought at times, but her power is unmistakable. If you read this aloud, you’ll hear the music of her lines. The poem moves easily between small, concrete moments such as The midwife slapped your footsoles and large abstract ideas. One example of the large and abstract comes with the line, your cry/ Took its place among the elements. And then there’s the complicated stanza that begins with I’m no more your mother and ends with something as large as the wind. All through the poem you can trace examples of large and small, sometimes layered right on top of each other as with the opening line - Love set you going like a fat gold watch. This is a specific watch complete with round face, Roman numerals and minute hand. (Actually, I don’t know what picture Plath had in mind, but this line conjures up images of my father’s watch.) And a watch tells time so we then zoom out from the tick, tick of the minute hand to Time with a capital T and a fisted hand around us all.
This is more explication than I usual give and will try to restrain myself in the future. In the meantime, enjoy the poem and don’t forget to read it out loud. Let me know what you think.
[I had a nagging feeling that I followed up on and it turns out that I wrote about this poem before. You can check it out here.]
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.
I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand.
All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.
One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square
Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.
I recently received a free resume critique courtesy of a job listing site I’ve signed up with. I’ve had a professional resume writer help me, got input from a temp agency, feedback from a headhunter and now this critique. My resume got a C. Apparently I’m not branding myself very well. I guess that’s not a big surprise since I’ve got some existential questions about my career path floating through my head.
I pulled up my resume with full intention to work on it and make it better, to make myself a better package. Instead, I got sidetracked. I made a cup of tea. I fed the cats. I took out the trash. Then I inevitably started surfing. I found a site called WordItOut and decided to turn my resume into a word cloud. What do you think? Would you hire me? Or should I play with the colors a little more?