Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Personal Challenge With Mama Zen

Just after she finished blowing us all away with her personal challenge write, Margaret Bednar passed the challenge baton to me.  My mission: find a painting or portrait of a woman and let her speak to me (offer advice, comment on my life, engage in conversation, etc.).  I looked at a lot of beautiful  paintings, but it was a portrait of a young Virginia Woolf that spoke to me.

Virginia Woolf

Sweet Briar

I'm rooted
in a sweet briar climb;
it's twining my thighs
and thorning.

by stones in my sleeve
and language 
lost to rust.

by apple rain
and the sweet, wet rot
of the river.

to wash 
the mud from my eyes;
I see too much.


Jinksy said...

That portrait and your words fit together perfectly. How well you translated the photographer's vision and the subject's own life.

Susan said...

Your poem brought tears, MZ, for sweet briar and clarity, christening and death. I am thankful for her life and writing, happy to be a coward unable to do my own christening ... or am I letting life do that for me? This is a brilliant poem. A part of my selected alchemy. Thank you.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Wow! I'm blown away by this moving portrait in words.

You have captured the sweet sorrow of her face so well with your contrasting images: the juxtaposition of thighs and thorning; language and rust; apple and rot. You also included all the references to her drowning with the most subtle of touches. This is a masterpiece.

Black Jack's Carol said...

Kerry expressed my response far better than I could myself, but just wanted you to know your poem and portrait spoke to me this morning. Thank you!

Marian said...

ooohhhh, yes, just perfect. yesterday i went walking through a bog with vines thorning my calves... not the same, though. not the same.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wow. This is brilliant and, as Kerry says, a masterpiece. You have surpassed yourself, Mama Zen. This is beautiful, poignant, sad and a brilliant capture of the poet. Love the "sweet briar climb" and "I see too much". This is a perfect piece. It moves me.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful. I have always loved that portrait of her, and your poem is just beautiful. It is all just too sad. k.

Anonymous said...

a gorgeous poem!

Anonymous said...

blogger ate my comment. so I'll just say -

stunning ~

Susie Clevenger said...

This is beautiful..there seems to be such wistfulness/pain in the photo and you have captured it so well in your words. That first stanza makes me cry. Stellar piece Mama Zen

Anonymous said...

Mama, you have crafted a poem that captures Woolf's character: Words lost to rust; I see too much.

As a person with mental disorders, I am happy not to have lived in Woolf's time. I can only imagine the horror psychiatrists visited upon her. I thought this was a challenge, so looked for Mr. Linky. I did write a poem, so I'll post the link here anyway:

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is a personal challenge between two members of RT, but if you feel inspired to write a piece in similar vein, feel free to share the link in comments.

21 Wits said...

Oh yes indeed, she has a way of getting right inside your heart and soul. This, as in many of her photos to me, (on every book I have of her too) there is so much one can feel just by looking at her. Your words are a perfect fit as well.

Margaret said...

I know very little of this woman… I spent over an hour googling her and reading. An hour I wished could have elapsed into another … I plan on revisiting her poetry and the movie Mrs. Dalloway)

You never cease to amaze me. This poem I've read at least 10 times. It is a mix of beauty and sadness, of a seeking for beauty, yet also a hiding from reality….. I don't know - it is a very special poem, that I know.

Other Mary said...

The "stones in my sleeves" is what got to me. That's when I first teared up. Now I have to go read Mrs. Dalloway again. So touching, so brilliant.

Fireblossom said...

Her eyes are sad, and you captured her sadness in your poem. I especially like the third stanza.

Hannah said...

Amazing!! I'm going to read this a few times...what an excellent voice and stepping into this author's character this is, Mama Zen!

Helen said...

Amazing, truly! Your poem reads like a heartbreaking prelude (or postscript) to the suicide note she left for her husband.

"I have a feeling I shall go mad. I cannot go on any longer in these terrible times. I hear voices and cannot concentrate on my work. I have fought against it but cannot fight any longer. I owe all my happiness to you but cannot go on and spoil your life."

Jim said...

I learned again today. Thank you, Mom Z. If I could I would somehow relate Woolf's life to that of my mom.
Mother was a city girl, college educated, who dedicated her life to my dad, a farmer. Never before had she ever thought of things like milking cows and castrating pigs.
In her own way, by neglecting her own health until her husband was well, she died of medical neglect.
With one year separating them, Mother died at age 88 while Dad lived to be 97. I wish she had written. Written of the life of sacrificing love. I could love Virginia Woolf for modeling and telling of hers and others lives living in such a life of ups and downs.
You did well in giving her a nice boost. "Stones in ... sleeves" and pockets full of stones will destroy any sense of buoyancy. I.e. get you down, symbolically and literally.

Grace said...

I'm specially taken with the last stanza & ending, I see too much ~

Terrific response MZ ~

hedgewitch said...

An excellent response to the challenge--first stanza especially, but solid and vivid throughout.

Mark Kerstetter said...

A beautiful poem for an amazing woman.