Omega

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Omega

Eight lost, some stillborn
Others born, still lost
Sons and daughters of Willow
One remains or so we believe
Alpha and the in-between-ones
Are all gone
Our deposit has not been sent
Hope is a currency all its very own

We are uncovering poetry
It’s what remains now
Well into her eighties
Grief grinds its way through
Those of us remaining
She deposited words
Like shiny gold coins
Rare
Into the safest of places
Poetry, her currency

Page after aging, age-less page
Reveal what Agnes’ life did not
To me

Distance and years
Wedges like a bank vault wall
Kept me at bay

She never knew that mother penned
“For Elizabeth our aspiring poet”
On the inside of Oliver’s “Evidence”

Surprise would have attended us both
That pens are passed into spheres of
The unknown

And just after we grieved for a good long while
The gone-ness grew
The no-going-back-ness
The place where the mind comes back from a long hiatus into dementia
Just to hear “I loved you”
And now
Your poetry

Omega was the last
Black English Cocker puppy
Born alive
In Oklahoma

A sign that one of nine
Remains
For us
A sign of hope
At eight weeks
Omega, should she live
(Meg for short)
Comes to live with us
Eight others rest in peace

Epiphanies born from death
Poetic embalming of her secrets
Now shared
Beauty birthed on every page
Life revealed in death

I cannot crown my favorite line of hers
(It may take a lifetime of catching up to dog-ear my favorite page)
Alpha and omega
And poetry in the in-between’s
She rests in peace
I wrestle with regret and grief

She wrestled with life
And turned it into poetry

 

 

 

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The Joy Of New, The Joy Of Old

 

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The old and new are colliding. Merging. Blending. I am coming back. To my writing after a long period of silence, here. My writing home. I joke that I lost my blog. It is a joke which is humorless. I have a new computer. That helps. And I have new hope and new joy. They are infusing me with renewed passion, purpose, energy. Funneling life-giving fuel to my soul which  is finding its way to my fingertips. Onto the page.

The fog is lifting. The marvel, mystery and curiosity about the ordinary are returning.

Many would say that the muse left me or that I lost my muse. I wouldn’t say that. That gives the muse too much credit, perhaps. The broken computer, the lack of an essential tool. That created white space. I think the time of rest would have come. Broken computer or not. I may never know.

 I have written here, on my newsletter. But only very recently. I began my most recent tiny letter there with an apology. It should be extended to you too. It feels worthy of a sincere “I am sorry I disappeared after you so graciously chose to follow along on my writing journey.”

If you are still here, that means you waited. I hope your wait was worth the wait. I hope we can see through the lens of grace and beauty, together. I hope we can unveil the hidden beauty in the simplest of stories. In the lines of poetry. And in the paragraphs of prose. Here. Together. (I am still turning over and over again and again, the idea of a book. I will turn these ideas over here too. For your consideration and feedback.)

I have written here too. At Gracetable.org, where I am honored to be a contributor. And where I write in some detail about my time away. If you are interested in some of my story of fading into a quiet place, I tell a bit about it there.

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As my writing waned, so did many aspects of my writing life. This is not as much a confessional as it may sound. Nor is it whining for whining’s sake. It is actually a story. Of new beginnings and fresh starts and regeneration. Those are always good to pour out. In the pouring out others, even just one other, may find hope and slivers of optimism in the words.

Sometimes when we connect the dots, others begin to connect their own.

I have been wanting to read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I enjoyed hearing her speak once. And I somewhat followed the build up to the release of this new book of hers on creativity. So many books have been left in the wake of my sabbatical. Will I ever catch up on where I want to be with my reading and with my art.

Eager for a little of the book and yet knowing that we are at somewhat different places in terms of our faith perspectives and perhaps life views, I downloaded a sample on my Kindle. Of all the samples Kindle could have offered up to me, I received the story of a poet. The beautiful story of Jack Gilbert. More fuel. I will move “Big Magic” up higher on my list of books on creativity and inspiration. Elizabeth Gilbert writes this of Jack Gilbert, poet:

“He seemed to live in a state of uninterrupted marvel, and he encouraged them [his students] to do the same. He didn’t so much teach them how to write poetry, they said, but why: because of delight. Because of stubborn gladness. He told them that they must live their most creative lives as a means of fighting back against the ruthless furnace of this world.”

So maybe that is it. I have rediscovered delight. I am called to press into the gladness, with determination. With persistence. With poetry.

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One sample, one book, one sliver, one other poet’s words.

One fresh start.

Here’s to new adventures on a rather old blog. Here’s to the old and the new. And to the beauty in the simple, the beauty of grace, and to a gentle flame, a fire in the belly of a creative. And as Jack Gilbert wrote to fighting back against the “ruthless furnace of this world.”

With a keen and unblinking eye on the beauty which He has created for us and in us. And to its revealing.

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Where To Go When The World Gets Loud

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Where To Go When The World Gets Loud

I continue to ask him to turn the volume down. I want it lower and lower. Perhaps I want it off. I cannot tell you the guilt I do not feel. I should want to know about Iran and the agreement which is there but will be fought over and fought over some more. And I have opinions but not the energy nor the desire to opine.

I do not want to hear the news right now. I was raised to use my brain and discuss and wallow in knowledge and knowing. My Facebook newsfeed yesterday horrified me. I now know things I did not know before. I hurt from reality more than I used to. Hiding is for cowards. And yet, I have a choice. Because the bruising from the world leaves me diminished and I cannot be and make and do and love under the weight.

And yet when I stay away,  I cannot pray and cry out about the things which are wrong and bearing down. So I step in and step out. A paradox of fear and trembling and licking the wounds. And exposing myself. And trusting Him to refuel my soul again and again. That is a cycle. Therein is the cycle. That is the refreshing and rebuilding and restoring He is known for.

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I want to be wise and worldly and know. Until I don’t. The most interesting things orbiting around me are about Pluto. I ask him to turn the volume up. If Pluto were one of us, he would have a complex and wonder on his worth. Disney at least named a character for him. And they bury the story in the back end. A whole mass of creation which is in flux and looking for us to name it and give it its proper place in the systems of the galaxies.

They deem it a footnote. I deem it worthy of a poem.

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When the world is loud. Abrasive. And harsh. The garden woos me to herself. And my pen’s siren call to write promises me too, that indeed, yes, there is a place of comfort and quietude. Of gentleness. Sanctuary, like the psalms.  An economy of words. I heard too much and hurt too much from hearing of brokenness and pain. I want my words to heal. And so I retreat to create. I learned of cancer and dementia, crumbling and cruel, nemesis of the living. Again. Coming through like the enemy on the march. They like to stomp on all my people. Or so it seems.

Peace like a river is in the scriptures. And He gives so many the call to write. And to listen well first. To need and want to be alone in the tapping out now. To run it all through the sieve of the pen. For good.

Social media has blessed me beyond and beyond. That is a magnified beyond. But it is loud. And I crave quiet.

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Join me on Friday as I release my first tiny letter. A weekly newsletter for subscribers via email. I hope you like Letter Number One. New content not found on the blog. Prose, poetry, prayer, photography, quiet words of grace for us.

Click the link to subscribe to elizabeth w. marshall, a quiet place for words.

A Confessional: Why I Write Imperfect Poetry ( & Prose) – Part One

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Sunday feels like a good day to write a confessional blog post. And when you tell another writer you are going to write said piece, you have some built in accountability. AKA, there is no turning back. I told Esther on Voxer that I was working on this in my head. That I was trying to get it out on paper or on a screen. Anywhere but inside of me.

I am sitting in a wicker chair. One that holds me like cupped hands. The mountains present themselves before me, like a movie screen painted and prepared for an audience. Artificially beautiful. But realer than real. And I am down the road from the church I attended this morning, as a guest. I can still smell the holy and hear the hallowed hymns. The stone and wood and worship linger in the air. My soul feels a lingering in the confessional we spoke. I prayed for the church today. It feels like a particularly important time to come clean.

I am not a great poet. I am not a great writer. I don’t know where I am in the bell curve of learning and honing my craft. But honestly, I am just a mediocre writer at best. But I have the fire in my belly and a passion under the folds of my wrinkling skin to write. Hiding out is an option. Always.

Giving up is always an option. I have an old computer which I could heave over the side of the mountain and life would go on. (Poetry is all about specificity. I would tell you just how old this Mac is but I truly do not recall….it is THAT old.) See the ellipsis back there. That is a taboo in the guidebooks of some writers.

Let’s face it. You can go other places for richer writing. Poetry, certainly, which shows more and tells less. Words that reach deeper with less adverbs. Lines which travel deeper into the beautiful. Verses which sing sweeter and lift you higher into the holy.

But my craft and my art are simply dressed in their everyday ordinary. I am honing and grooming them. Hoping for leaps of growth. Trusting that I will not remain in my writing where I reside this day.

But honestly. I am flawed as a writer. Imperfect. But I am flawed as a parent. Imperfect in my mothering. And certainly I fall short as a daughter to a mother suffering from dementia. My house could be cleaner. My food burned less often. My time spent more wisely. My morning devotions  could be longer.

But grace attends me when I write and when I breathe and live. And tells me to continue. No, encourages me to press on. Perfecting my imperfections.

My mother has dementia. Often her speech borders on faint mumbling. But I listen. I would not stop. She has something to say. And she is alive and living and wants to enter in. To tell what she sees. How this life feels and  how it smells. She wants and needs to process her living.

And so do I.
And so I write imperfect poetry. And prose
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Please join me tomorrow for Part Two.