I was asked to write a poem from the perspective of the angels in my dream.I have posted this once before, but not with all the other Falling Angels poems. It is a sequence of poems responding to a dream.
We are stars We are born We are made to burn We flame We explode or burn out We are made to die
We are angels We are made to fall We all fall We are white falling in black space Or black falling in white space If you prefer It doesn’t matter It is the contrast that is important There is no light without dark
We are angels We are made to fall We all fall
Do you fear your fear? your anger? Your grief? falling? death?
We fall for you
If you reject your fear your anger your grief falling death
We will fall for you We accept falling
All must fall
If you accept your fear your anger your grief falling death
It seems to be one of my irritable days They come rolling round in the month of May I don’t feel friendly and don’t want to play It seems to be one of my irritable days
It seems to be one of those days when I’m mad At nothing particular. I feel really bad I hate those damn tourists who always wear plaid I really intensely dislike feeling sad
I haven’t felt quite this bad since last year But I’m not one to cry. I don’t like weak tears I’m not one to let myself feel any fears I haven’t felt this bad for almost a year
It seems to be one of those days when I’m mad I think I’ll go pick a nice fight with that lad He looks too damn happy and just too damn glad When I’m punching his lights out I won’t feel so sad
It seems to be one of my irritable days Going to work on them just doesn’t pay My boss’s revenge just goes on for days Today it’s so bad that I can’t even pray
Helen Burling Ottaway, my mother, died May 15, 2000. I wrote this poem in the early 2000s. Her birthday was May 31, right near Memorial Day. Mother’s Day always falls near her death.
I am putting up a series of poems that I titled Falling angels, after a dream, where all the stars in the sky started falling. I was frightened and then realized that they were all angels. Then I was more frightened.
I think we need poetry and dreams and angels during this difficult time. Even if the angels are all falling.
I took the photograph of my mother. A friend loaned me his 35mm camera and I took one roll of pictures and gave the camera back to him. Almost all of the photographs I took were portraits.
You were an artist You are an artist You said that you’d have to live to 120 to finish all your projects And died at 61 I keep wondering what the art supplies are like and if you work on sunsets or mountains or lakes
Trey, 9 made a clay fish last summer that I admire He said grumpily “It’s too bad Grandma Helen died before I could do clay with her.” He tells me he’s ready to make raku pots to fire in your ashes as you wished I ask what he’d make He considers and says, “What was Grandma Helen’s favorite food?” I can’t think and say that she liked lots of foods At the same time wondering squeamishly if maybe he should make a vase and then being surprised that I am squeamish and thinking of blood and wine, too, I wonder if my dad would know. “Maybe guacamole.” I need to find a potter to apprentice him to.
Camille, 4. asks how old Grandma Helen was when she died. I explain that she died at 61 but her mother died at 92. Camille asks how old I am. 40. When are you going to die? I say I don’t know, none of us do, but I hope it’s more towards 90.
Camille studies me and is satisfied for now. She goes off. I think of you.
I perpetuate the Christmas cards you did with us upon my children. They each draw a card. We photocopy them and hand paint with watercolors. Camille wants to draw an angel and says she can’t. I draw a simple angel and have her trace it. She has your fierce concentration bent over tracing through the thick paper She wants it right. The angel is transformed.
My kids resist the painting after a few cards as I did too. Each time I paint the angel to send to someone I love I think of Camille and you and genes and Heaven I see you everywhere
January 19, 2002
published in Mama Stew: An Anthology: Reflections and Observations on Mothering, edited by Elisabeth Rotchford Haight and Sylvia Platt c. 2002
all you have to do is be quiet near the puddles or a pond
walk there very very quietly
in the spring they are singing to each other calling a symphony of longing and joy and they don’t hear me when I walk very quietly at the end of the world
as a child my father teaches me to catch frogs
very quietly approach the pond or puddle
if the frog hears you it will duck under water you will only see a ripple spreading out
or it will hop into the woods and hide
my father would occasionally use frogs as bait to catch northern pike a live frog on a hook frogs scream when you stick a hook through their back
I hope they go into shock then and don’t feel much
one we’d seen this my cousins and my sister and I when my father got his fishing rod we’d run through the woods yelling “Hide the frogs, hide the frogs!” and we would catch any frog that was dumb enough not to hide and quickly set it in the woods to hide it from my father
we would check the puddles, too feeling in the brownish muck to make sure no frog was hidden in the shallow puddle come out, you must go in the woods to survive
to catch the smart ones normally we would tiptoe to the puddle hoping a frog was facing the other way if they saw us, they were gone
slowly bend down, hand out behind the frog reach gently grab just above the back legs not too hard, don’t squish it
I was under ten on a canoe trip when I run to my father “A frog! A frog! The biggest frog I’ve seen! Papa, come help!” My father comes. An enormous frog is beside the canoe. “Catch it.” says my father. “Please! You catch it!” I beg. My father creeps up on the frog. His hand moves out slowly. He grabs the frog, who tries to jump and croaks, a bass, huge mouth. “It’s a young bullfrog,” says my father. “It will get even bigger.” He hands it to me. I take it carefully, shaking a little. “We could eat it’s legs.” “NO!” I say. I just want to hold it for a minute. I turn it over and gently stroke it’s throat. The frog goes limp, mesmerized. I set it down gently, right side up, near the water. I squat by the frog and wait. I am waiting for it to wake up. The frog is so beautiful. I wait until it wakes up and returns home.
Why are the roses caged, you ask? What did they do? Nothing, they are being protected. I found that rose and transplanted it years ago, but our deer eat the buds every year. This is the first time that it has bloomed in the 21 years I have lived in this hours. Isn’t it beautiful?
I am listening to this:
I wrote this poem today. This is one of the poems where I have no idea where it will go when I start writing it. I start writing about judgement and it never ever goes where I expect. The poems go where I want to go in my deepest heart, in my soul. I am never where the poem is, the poems show me the way….. Then I try to go there. And it can take years….
I am being judged and watched
I have no issue with the Beloved
it’s the humans I don’t like
I twist people’s words but not with malice
when the antibodies are up it is hard to communicate hard to explain it is hard just to survive and I might be focused on survival first and comforting the people around me second
can you blame me?
how near to death have you passed? and how often?
first pneumonia heart rate 135 when I stood up
my doctor and I could not understand it
my doctor partners thought I was lying in 2003
second pneumonia after my sister’s death which was bad enough but the legal morass that she had set up with her daughter as the center
pitting me and her daughter’s birth father and my father against all the PhDs in the maternal family smart, smart, smart yet emotionally stupid
my niece is not an inheritance to be passed to whom my sister wants
she reluctantly came home and the myth endures that this is an injustice
third pneumonia one year after I find my father dead triggered by grief and the outdated will and the mess he leaves
and I don’t even get sued about the will for another year
To participate in the Ragtag Daily Prompt, create a Pingback to your post, or copy and paste the link to your post into the comments. And while you’re there, why not check out some of the other posts too!