creativity · disability · mental-health · poetry · women's issues · writing

Dear Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Yellow Wallpaper)

I have examined your wallpaper,
discussed the scholarly attributes
of shades of yellow, traced the edges
of your unravelling with my mind,
argued the merits of Gothic horror;

marvelled at the brilliance of wording,
the courage to define the nature of
feminine madness, the boldness to
highlight inequalities long before the
establishment of a Person’s Act.

Forgive me, but I need to set aside
this keyboard for a moment, for I tire
easily, am suffering from an exhaustion
that is systemic and calls for elimination
of all stimulus in favour of rest, you see

I share your sentence of confinement,
isolated to a room with windows, my
mind wandering to ancestral gardens,
contemplating shadows and movement
cognizant of underlying forces, creeping.

My husband has just left, dear man, having
checked on me, taking on my burden,
concerned that I am not sleeping at night
thinks that by reading and rereading your
words I am only fueling an already over-

active imagination; begging me to be still
as the doctor has recommended; but I am
burning to tell you that time has no
relevance between us and that you and I
exist simultaneously – a secret we dare

not confess – how correct your impulse
that there was more than one woman,
that we are many, barred by the designs
of society, papered over by irrational,
outdated shades of yellow, lacking

symmetry, or sensibility, suffocating
our creativity, tortuously contorting
ourselves to been seen, accepted.
It is the smell of our discordant souls
that pervades your consciousness

the rotted withering of  a stifled
existence – a yellowed existence –
once hopeful, sunny, now molding
mucous, desperately torn away
at the edges, pleading for escape

How grateful I am that you see –
may I call you Charlotte – that you
have smelled the angst, witnessed
the struggle, are willing to tear at
the sticking places, to set us free.

(I wrote this in the throes of severe M.E. – sleepless nights, coupled with systemic exhaustion and endless confinement to bed brought to mind the short story :  Yellow Wallpaper.  I submit it here and am linking up with Brave and Reckless’ challenge based on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s piece)

aging · creativity · culture · Family · life · poetry · relationships · women's issues

Good Woman

Cater,
Good Woman; keep your pantry full –
there are mouths to feed, and
whims to answer,
smile on.

Smile on,
Good Woman, feed the children young
and old, their needs cry out
for nourishment;
be strong.

Be strong,
Good Woman, tending your oven,
concocting recipes,
born to serve, raised
to please.

To please
Good Woman, be sure your own pot
is overflowing, lest
fatigue sets in,
and then

And then,
Good Woman, who caters to you –
the children are gone and
husband retired –
what now?

(This is a Crown Cinquain written for Dark Side of the Moon’s challenge.)

creativity · culture · poetry · travel · women's issues · writing

Black Madonna, Revisited

Remember that Autumn,
we drove up to Campbell River,
like teenagers, skipping out of class –
a cackle of women, spiritually forming?

Felt as if we had bided our time, willing
this union to occur – high on anticipation,
giddy that our routine femininity had
been strewn across the barricades
of our socially contrived existence.

We were like lesbian lovers, unafraid
to explore our crevices, our souls
hungering for release…

We were researchers, reinventing masks
adopted in formative years, stretching
our capacity to believe…

awakened by the crones amongst us,
sisters united, standing in the the flood
of our collective herstory, shedding
the padding of our religious upbringing,
teetering on the brink of a lost divinity.

Weavers, once paralyzed by the guck
of patriarchal dictates, fear of ascension
retreating, we broke free, immersed in
Goddess splendour, felt the ecstasy
of true abandonment, were wild women
unrestrained, catalysts for change.

How is it that the passion faded so abruptly –
that motherhood and responsibility, and
the rigours of competing in daily life stripped
away the afterglow, smacked me back into
this rigid self-definition, prayerful, thankful,
yet lacking the empowerment of the island?

Have I stored her somewhere; is there even
a space within me capable of housing such
expansiveness, open to wading once again
in the waters of a lunar deity, wiling to sacrifice
superficiality for the compassionate mystery
of the Black Madonna haunting my memory?

( Black Madonna first appeared here in November of 2016.  I resubmit her (slighting edited) in response to Willow Poetry’s image prompt (featured):  What Do You See?)

life · ME/ CFS · poetry · Uncategorized · women's issues · writing

(Self) Portrait of a Waitress

Jumbo Jet
they called her –
fast on her feet,
zooming in,
swooping up trays,
delivering with flight
attendant flair.

When did she turn
to autopilot,
stop paying attention
to her destination?

Didn’t she know
she was set
on a crash course,
headed for disaster?

Tried to warn her,
wake her from stupor;
told me she’d reset,
but danger remains.

She is cruising now –
over-sized
turbo-lacking
under-fuelled,
no longer able
to soar – trapped
in a treacherous game.

Waits tables,
tries to keep
a clean house,
caters to others,
lends an ear,
has squeezed
every drop of self
into a low flying life

needs to land
a space of her own,
with room to breathe;
take life in shorter
intervals, refill
her jets.

(Portrait of a Waitress first appeared in April of 2016.   I am re-introducing it here for Ragtag Community’s prompt: jet.)

 

art · creativity · culture · poetry · women's issues · writing

Imagining Genius

Imagine befriending genius –
accepting social awkwardness
embracing habitual quirks as
incubation for enlightenment.

If I could strip down, release
preconceived notions, agendas,
lie naked, exposed, in shallow
waters, intimately entwined,

unencumbered by sexuality
or gender protocols, I would
shake this sensual impotency –
become one with creativity.

As my father, wounded, I
am inhibited by my feminine,
opting for compliance over
strength, a conditioned identity.

His mystery extends, flawless
sculpting, archetypal secrets,
pretense proclaiming normalcy,
usurping vitality, genius stifled.

(Submitted in response to Reena’s Exploration Challenge #78.  Click the link to see the quotation prompt.  Imagining Genius first appeared here in Feb. 2016. Image from personal collection.)