The First of Many

I have not blogged in a long time.  Blame what I would (child, life, thesis, choir) the fact is that it has been a long time.  Then I found a treasure trove buried on my computer.  I went through a great transformative time some five years ago and I wrote my way through it in poetry.  I have decided to start sharing them here, and to let posting them become a practice of easing back into the world of writing with a ritualistic kind of honor for the day I am living.  So today I will share a story and a poem.

When I was in 6th grade we had a competition between all of the other elementary schools in our district where teams of children were chosen to represent their schools in answering questions about a list of books all the teams had read.  Our school came in 3rd place in the district.  The certificate of attaining a place on the proverbial podium was presented to each student on the team at a school board meeting.  It came in a beautiful blue leather-bound protector.  My father drove me to the award ceremony, and I could see how proud he was of me.  I have lovely memories of my father, but this one I am glad was sealed away inside my heart because I couldn’t know that just three years later he would die.  When we came out into the parking lot after the ceremony he asked to see the certificate.  I wordlessly handed it to him and he stood there in the lamplight of a spring dusk looking at it.  He handed it back to me with a quiet smile, and then he said words I will never forget.  “The first of many.”

I have not spent my life trying to prove him right.  Indeed, if there is one thing I have learned, it is to embrace failure as eagerly as one embraces seeming triumph— for both are such transitory and migrant states that they indicate movement within.  Something is preparing to alter, something will never be the same again.  Be alert and watch for its alteration.  Sometimes this watching is like the anticipation of spring when I scour the barren trees for buds only to find that while I was sleeping one night those buds stole onto the branches all in a rush: one minute a promise, the next a leaf drawing in sunlight for food.  Sometimes that watching is a fearful thing with the unspoken question, “What now?” hanging in the air above my shoulders— a perpetual longing toward the fulfillment I believed the success would provide, but which did not come to pass.  He believed that honors and awards would be many, and he was right, but I have learned that these do not of themselves betoken success.

Or at least not what I choose to call success, but that is another story.

Swords and Scythes

Empty space now

Where there were voices ringing with song and laughter

…A few angry voices;

Hewasangry(too)thismorning

As she carried him

—From the car—

Because I hadn’t gone back

For his sword.

I left mine at home today

—Too.

I left off the armor today

And the twin scythes of

Loneliness and Silence

Carved holes into my

Spirit.

I am a woman

Who bleeds, now.

I teach voices

To sing.

I teach children

To hear.

I teach tiny lives

In a vast world

To stretch;

But in my heart

I have his tears,

Where I hide my own.

When there is no room left

(In my heart)

For his tears

They run down my cheeks;

And what follows the resonance

Of their song each day

Is the visceral silence

Of my new life.

Such a silence that is

(Truly)

Deafening.

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~ by Rebecca Erickson on May 7, 2015.

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