Saturday, December 10, 2011

Poetry Girl

Last week I was glad to receive a Christmas package from my sister. I was expecting it, and I was pretty sure I knew what was in it:  Gourmet Chipotle Pepper Olive Oil and Chocolate flavored Balsamic Vinegar. Ooh! I can't wait to cook roast pork flavored with that stuff.  But this posting, as it turns out, is not about a recipe with fancy oil and vinegar.

Because inside the package was a little book I had forgotten I ever owned.

Back in 1969, a treasured friend gave me this little journal.    From the time I received it, when I was seventeen, until the summer after I turned 21, I filled those pages with poem after poem.  I also wrote down the occasional dream, or errant thought.  Except for about 5 pages, the book is completely full.

I made a frontispiece:

"Poetry is a spontaneous overflow
of powerful feeling... it is emotion
recollected in tranquility."

- William Wordsworth

Some of the poems describe my feelings about growing up, searching for God, and boyfriends... I have read through it several times and there are a couple I really like. One in particular demonstrates the germ of the spiritual journey I was to take several years later.

It's like reaching out
but no one's there
and realizing that
that's good
because it makes me
reach in

As I read through this little book, I am glad that I had the foresight to make some little notes, "to DJ". Or, "to A.W."  However, I'm not a hundred percent sure who some of these poems reference. Who was that boy about whom I wrote,  
  "...I cried to hear you say 
you thought I didn't love you"?

That line is the very last one written in this book.  I was 21 years old and I remember that summer so well, or I thought I did anyway. That was the summer I embarked on the spiritual journey that I would walk for the next 30 years.

I am a little sad that I stopped writing down in my little book.  I know I was writing.  Somewhere in the universe there are thousands of bits of paper with my thoughts, and feelings on them. I wish I had them on a shelf in my room. During a visit to my parents' home around the time I wrote those last words  I destroyed several volumes of journals I kept while I was at college. I felt that my personal musings of that time, while meant only for my own eyes, we're too immature, too juvenile to keep;  I was a little embarrassed when I reread them. So I destroyed them.

If I could send a message back to my 21-year-old self, I would tell her to put those notebooks back on the shelf, waaay in the back. That way, when I came back to go through my parents' belongings 30 years later, after their deaths, I could collect them and put them on my own shelf.  There they could remain for my children and grandchildren to find, after I am gone, when they pick through the detritus of my own life.

My 21-year-old self, while so wise in some ways, as some of her previous poetry indicated, really had no clue, did she?

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