Sunday, July 25, 2010

Does Writing Age Like a Fine Wine?

I've spent the weekend digging through my old writing notebooks, some dating back more than 10 years. I'm amazed at all the writing I've done that I've long forgotten about. At the time, I just dashed off these little poetry/short story snippets without too much thought. Words scribbled between teaching classes, grading papers at the local coffeehouse, and waiting for the city bus at the stop. The years of my student teaching were grueling, with hardly any time to breathe. (the first one was in languages/ESL for undergrad. The second was in a 5th grade classroom, all subjects for masters). Writing was a necessary outlet to preserve my sanity.

As I look back at these pages, I can remember the circumstances of each piece. My health has always been up-and-down, with constant infections and other problems. It wasn't until I was formally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2006 that many of the incidents made sense. This poem was written on June 1, 2001:

The pain makes me tremble.
It pierces with dull blades
Sharp when water flows.
It burns my blood.
When my mind is clouded,
my body becomes a rod
attracting all kids of thoughts.
My back feels heavy,
my legs sting.
The hornets hide in every crevice
And poke with awful sting.
My soul stands up against it,
saying, "No, you don't,
Not this time."
But the shell I occupy
turns traitor.
And I crumble with little strength.
I rebel against my fate
And bear the agony alone,
Hiding the ashes within my throat,
Withering slowly within my heart.
---RAD 6/1/01

I'm amazed at how relevant those feelings are to me, nearly ten years later, and how powerful they remind me of that time of my life. Here's another one, written the same year, when I was angry at my husband. We'd been married 5 years at this point:

An idiot
knows he's an idiot.
A smart idiot
bites his tongue
till it bleeds.
But a genius idiot
dies a death
of a cold hell
where he rambles on
to an audience of one:
---RAD 7/16/01

Again, I'm struck at the relevance of this poem at the time and now. This was before we had our children, and two of our three children's diagnosis of moderate/severe autism. It wasn't until much later that I realized my husband had all the signs of Aspberger's Syndrome (high-functioning autism), which includes brilliance in certain areas (in his case, computers), but difficulty in relating to others' thoughts and feelings.

I'll close with one more short poem, about trying to find who you are.

Finding yourself in a mirror,
is such an easy thing to do.
Your image warped
beyond recognition.
Good in place of evil---
Perfect lines blurred.
Yet which one is the right one?
The crisp reflection of everyday life?
Or the shadows hidden within?
---RAD 3/11/00

Writers, when you look at your old manuscripts, what do you see? Can you remember the time and place when you wrote it? Can you remember how you felt at the time? Look back, you'd be surprised.

All writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

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