Monday, January 28, 2008

Memories in writing

Things are moving slowly at the McGowin home. For many reasons, my motivation is low and my mood is subdued. I am working on unpacking my newly painted study, but hundreds of books makes for a daunting task. This morning, I came across a file holding a hodge-podge of short stories and poetry that I wrote in high school. The stroll down memory lane made for a bittersweet break. Since I have not taken the time to finish up my next post in the series on women in the Kingdom of God, I thought I would share a small glimpse of my past writing with my readers. Its a little embarrassing, for sure, but it is where I have come from--what God has brought me through.

For those who don't know, from the time I was 4 years to 17 years old, I was a dancer. Ballet was my first love and by the time I was 15, I was dancing 3-5 days a week, with rehearsals on Saturdays and Sundays. It is a custom of young dancers seeking a career in dance performance, to audition for "summer studies" with various companies. For the summer of 1998, I was accepted into the North Carolina School of the Arts modern dance program, something I had yet to study deeply.

Imagine hundreds of hormonal, anxious teenagers crowded onto a college campus for several weeks to study dance 5-6 hours a day. Imagine a 15 year-old soon-to-be junior in high school, newly committed to the Christian faith, embarking on a summer apart from faith community, parents, and friends, to take a chance on her own. The first poem was written June 1 on the evening following the stressful move into the dorm. The second poem was written June 27 following a very hot and lazy Saturday break.

cosmo ladies
curling lips
and poisoned tongues
hopeful stares wander
whispering over the crowd

buzz flies linger
stinging bites like envy
edgy nerves cut deep
bleeding wounds licked clean
by healing egos

touchy men loiter
aimlessly searching
rhyme evading reason

quick, run, shout, jump
be within crowd
come into self
this instant

lazy summer days
minutes trickle like sweat
down bronze backs
noisy chatter ripples
and gnats nestle
on oily skin

energy melts away
with cherry red popsicles
as heat carresses feet
and skin burns

laying, listening, dreaming
the nothingness clearing space
in anxious heads

music bounces
clowns through trees
onlookers watching
from cement arm chairs
as endearing chaos
invades campus

I think most people can affirm the real pain associated with "first loves," whether they be in junior high, high school, or college. Of course, that's when love was a feeling, an intoxicating sort of giddiness that makes your stomach flutter. I was a naturally winsome and romantic teenager, filling many notebooks with sad "love" poetry about various crushes. But, as I have read over many of these poems today, I remember that even though the "love" I felt wasn't real, that does not change the fact that the emptiness and longing I felt was very real. Even as a new Christian, I struggled deeply with the melancholy of desiring intimacy, yet being quashed by reality.

To My Own Saint
Coming forth from battle-lines of wounded pride,
How easy breaks the heart with reality overdue,
And from the storm of Reason shall I hide,
Recognizing not the mortal fall of you.
Still, sunlight comes with no question of tomorrow,
Though want of life has swiftly fled;
Blunt consideration bears the lengths of sorrow
And blinded love has been stricken dead.
Why such numerous days of endless plight,
When escapist peace is the desire of mine?
Shush still this babbling fool's weak fight
To know saintly perfection is not your design.
Faultlessness yields to this finite earthly place,
Though shadows of the seraphim still shine within your face.

Finally, I wrote these poems in my senior creative writing course, in the fall of 1999:

for pools of dreams
forever teaming with desire-
cry: for the life of he
who cannot see
and splash within the freedom-
mourn: the day of
childhood play
that ends with dawning-
and the sun comes:
dries the puddles.

Parting the Petals
That willow there
With branches bent and cicadas stare
Drifting lightly,
Retreating swiftly,
From pounding, gusty winds:
That's me.

That smooth river stone
Rushed along and on the shore alone
Cratered, but soft
Scarred, but pretty
From searing, scalding flow:
That's me.

And there, the rising moon
Warmth and light withdrawing soon
One side to light,
The other to darkened haze,
From a disillusioned axis:
That's me.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts. You were just born with a God-given ability to express yourself in writing. It's hard to believe you were only 15 when you wrote these. You brought back some memories to me - things of a long, long time ago! I love you and your willingness to share your life.


Mel said...

I've always admired poets because I have no ability to concisely put feelings and thoughts down on paper. Verboseness is my curse. I absolutely loved reading this part of you. You are so brave to be transparent. Thank you for once again sharing yourself with us. As always, it's a blessing.

Valerie Calderon said...

Lovely words, Emily. Thank you for sharing.

Steve said...

A born wordsmith. Marlowe & Dickinson would ha' been intrigued wit' ya. Samuel Clemens might'a shown you 'round his fancy typewriting machine in Connecticut.