Thursday, December 8, 2005

Small comfort

from a wise friend.

ITHAKA
Louise Gluck


The beloved doesn't
need to live. The beloved
lives in the head. The loom
is for the suitors, strung up
like a harp with white shroud-thread.

He was two people.
He was the body and voice, the easy
magnetism of a living man, and then
the unfolding dream or image
shaped by the woman working the loom
sitting there in a hall filled
with literal-minded men.

As you pity
the deceived sea that tried
to take him away forever
and took only the first,
the actual husband, you must
pity these men: they don't know
what they're looking at;
they don't know that when one loves this way
the shroud becomes a wedding dress.

9 Comments:

At 7:59 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...

Lovely. And, on another note, I am stunned by your generosity. My trials pale in comparison to yours. Thank you for your kind words. You are in my thoughts daily.

 
At 7:59 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:00 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...

For some reason, the prior comment showed up twice.

 
At 9:35 AM , Blogger The Misanthrope said...

Your posts have been very moving and you convey your pain in such a way that is very moving and helpful.

Wishing you all the best.

 
At 11:09 AM , Blogger MoMedusa said...

Thank you for this perfect poem.

BTW, instead of calling you Dorcasina, I'll be calling you Cacahuate ;)

 
At 1:22 PM , Anonymous mindspin said...

Thank you for sharing this poem. I didn't know it. It's gift to me, too.

 
At 5:29 PM , Blogger ABDmom said...

What a beautiful poem. I'm awestruck by it.

 
At 3:19 PM , Anonymous mindspin said...

Supper should be started, there are papers to grade, there's no new post here nor should there be until posting is the needful thing, but still I sit here for ten minutes staring at the laptop screen, wishing you some small good thing in spite of all and reaching into silence to affirm the courage you find each day.

 
At 7:57 PM , Anonymous ehj2 said...

I tend to sort out what I am feeling by writing. Too often I can't make the deep feelings within myself sort themselves out sufficiently to capture them.

Almost always, once I sort them out, I realize my feelings have been far better expressed by someone else. That's okay. They're my feelings and I needed to sort them out.

Sometimes, even though my feelings are common, just sharing seems like a form of politeness, a form of relatedness, a form of being present.

And sometimes, I just don't know what else to do.

~~~

We are now aware that the masculine tends to "listen" with calculation and discrimination. It evaluates, objectifies, quantifies, compartmentalizes, judges ... and prepares to compete.

It is difficult for the masculine to just simply listen ... and partake and embrace of a shared experience ... for the shared comprehension of that experience.

These parts of me listen with a desire to fix what is broken, or to add clarity to a subject, or to correct an error. If a story is shared, I can feel a part of myself (ego driven) that wants to offer a similar but grander version of that story. That voice is far quieter now than when I was younger, but it is a voice still within me.

In truth, the masculine doesn't "listen" intently so much as it "waits to wrestle" intently and prepares to "win" with words.

In truth, it is very difficult to not be able to fix things or make them better. This cuts into the masculine so deeply we have an ancient term that is linked to masculine physical performance. To be unable to act is to be impotent.

It is so psychologically frustrating to be impotent that if a man can't fix what is broken, or offer a fix to a description of what is broken, he tends to change the subject, reframe the problem, or move on quickly to something in which his competence and capacity has some utility.

As irksome as the raw masculine is, it wants to be valuable. It's difficult to stand and remain in a place of "uselessness."

But, of course, that is a judgment. Listening without capacity is not really useless. It's just listening.

I suspect, however, this frustration is why we ignore a lot of the suffering in the world. We feel impotent to fix it, we don't like to feel useless, so we learn gradually to ignore it. But teaching ourselves to be deaf doesn't heal anything.

And "listening" in this competitive masculine way is of course quite distinct from any kind of acceptance or surrender. It isn't "real" listening at all because it is not participating from "within" a shared space so much as it is preparing to contend with "other" in a separate space. To share in something we must acknowledge it (consciousness) and surrender to it, even if there is nothing we do or can do.

Surrender, even to good things, is not easily learned. And it's rarely well taught, especially in patriarchal cultures ... which focus on competition and mastery and oneup(man)ship.

To feel what someone else is feeling in the moment they feel it is to surrender to someone else's feelings.

Significantly, we are willing to allow ourselves to be flooded by someone else's joy. We don't feel guilty at "taking their joy" because we know this doesn't reduce their joy.

We are less willing to share in someone else's grief. And, if we're decent, we ache because we know we cannot carry even part of it away for them.

But even though we cannot take a portion of someone else's grief, there's something important about being able to be a part.

We cannot reduce grief, but we can tell someone they are not alone.

You are never alone and never will be.

And we do take away something. The human miracle of our relatedness.

/ehj2

 

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