Friday, November 19, 2010

Poetry Friday: I dwell in Possibility and Wave

Lately, the facts of life in Haiti - tents, storm, cholera, riots - have been extremely depressing. But there's more to life than facts, right?

I dwell in Possibility
by Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility --
A fairer House than Prose --
More numerous of Windows --
Superior -- for Doors --

Of Chambers as the Cedars --
Impregnable of Eye --
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky --

Of Visitors -- the fairest --
For Occupation -- This --
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise --

I love this picture of gathering Paradise. There is so much beauty around us in the world and in other people. Possibility is a wonderful place to dwell.

For Emily Dickinson, gathering Paradise involved writing, and it does for me, too. (Not that I put myself in her league, or even anywhere near her league.) The other day I was overwhelmed by waves of emotion: fear, pain, love, gratitude. I felt almost that those emotions came from outside me. I closed my eyes and felt buffeted by them, unable to do a thing about it. But since I dwell in Possibility, I decided to write about it. Here's what I had at the end of my free period:


Floating on my back,
Face baking body cool,
Trusting the ocean to hold me up,
Mind empty of thought.

Without warning the wave submerges me.
I'm underwater,
Full of water,
Crushed by water.
Slammed into the sand,
Pinned down by a force outside myself,
A power that dwarfs my efforts to escape.
I struggle for air,
Claw towards the surface,
Where I will be myself again
Instead of nothing but a desire to survive.

How can you speak of controlling this wave?
This wave of pain-grief-love,
This wave that flings me onto the beach,
Gasping and covered with seaweed?

by Ruth from

I have no illusions that this is a great poem or even a good one, but oh, I felt so much better after writing it. I felt more able to deal with myself and my surroundings. As I've said before on this blog, you can do what you want with words, move them around as you choose; not so people or circumstances. I can't control those waves of emotion but I can control what I do with them. It's part of gathering Paradise, writing it down, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the unbearable.

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.


Andromeda Jazmon said...

Oh Ruth, you are so right! Gathering Paradise so often does involve clawing toward the surface, or just hanging on while you are buffeted about. Thank you for sharing your writing here. It is beautiful and you are that & brave. Your writing is a gift.

Joyce Ray said...

Ruth, the Dickinsen poem is just lovely (of course) and I Dwell in Possibility may be the mantra we all need in these times. Thanks for sharing the results of your therapeutic wordplay. It feels just like that when life buffets us about. I like the image of seaweed covering at the end, almost like a protective mantle offered by the same sea that produced the wave.

Janet said...

I like this picture... Gathering paradise, or simply clawing your way back toward it, through words.

Ben Curran said...

Don't short-change your own poem. It's excellent. Thanks for sharing it.

Jessica Stock said...

Both poetry and possibility are worlds I find myself dwelling in when life seems overwhelming, I am thankful for both of these graces. And I really like your poem. Can't imagine what you are going through . . .

Tricia said...

Lovely poem!

laurasalas said...

Ruth, thank you for sharing both of these poems. I love the Dickinson one with its gambrels of sky. And yours made me *feel* that submersion, the attack, the crushing weight of fear, grief, and worry. Nicely done. And sending thoughts of wonderful possibilities your way!