Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ah, well . . . .

I'd been invited to attend The 2007 Robert Frost Poetry Festival that ended this weekend at the Heritage House in Key West, Florida. My poem, 'Pruning', won third place in last year's contest. I chose not to go because of the mending still ongoing here at home. Truth to tell - a not small part of me was relieved. Reading my poem in public would have been very difficult. I've been told that it will make my poem less publishable to put it on the internet. But with health concerns on both my husband's and my part this past year, I've not even had time or the interest to submit it anywhere. So, mindful of the brevity and beauty of life - of the things that truly matter - I lay my poem at your doors and hope you will lift it gently up and recognize a heart not so unlike your own - struggling to find its way. I regret that it is a poem about regret. But, it is also about courage and making difficult choices. I hope, then, it may also be perceived as a poem about forbearance, forgiveness and moving forward, though not without pain. Someday, I hope, to balance it with a poem that soars.
Someday . . .


Pruning is such a delicate matter
as we choose what must relinquish the right
to remain aloft and cling to the ladder
of the arbor where the squabbling jays natter
about their perches for the night.

It’s the space you cleave between the branch
and the trellised bark -you know will bleed.
You see your questioning knuckles blanch
with the hope you’ve measured beyond mere chance
as required by the gardener’s creed
in the dog-eared books which try to say
about the choices a man must make
as to what must go and what may stay,
to love the light for another day.
The pruner knows his hands’ mistake

will leave the roots beneath his job
making their peace with the fool in the air,
judging his work while his temples throb,
as he stifles regret with a tight-throated sob,
about the error for the things in his care.

Catherine S. Wilson



KGMom said...

Cathy--I love it, absolutely love it. And I can see exactly why it honors the tradition of Robert Frost.
You use a wonderful metaphor in tree pruning, how it is essential, a precursor to growth, but at the same time painful because we have to give up something to gain something.
Sorry reading a poem in public is difficult (it is something I love to do--I could give you lessons!).
And I hope you get published, should that be your hope.

Larry said...

I'm not much of a poetry reader but I like your poem.-The problem with poems is that they usually have more than one meaning and I don't always get it.-I'm guessing you are also saying something about the choices we have to make in life. -sorry about what ever health problems you are going through-I wish you the best.

Cathy said...

Donna -

I'd hoped that with your love and experience of poetry and prose you would find it worthy. Whew:0)

Thank you so much. I don't think it reads particularly well, aloud. Hmmmm. Could just be me as I bumbled along. I'd hoped to cajole someone at the festival to read it for me. I've never heard it read by another. Yes, I could use the lessons. (Do you teach confidence?)

Cathy said...

Larry -

That's very sweet of you. My husband, too - brilliant as he is - is a literalist and struggles with things that are weighted with symbolism. But - I think you 'get' this poem very well.

Thanks for the good wishes for health. The prognosis for my dearest is very good and it's just the mending from surgery that is tough. For me, nothing life-threatening - just a disc thing that makes for a little weakness and tingling. Aging is interesting. Spring is better :0)

Body Soul Spirit said...

This poem is beautiful and sounds wonderful when read aloud. I have just started reading you blog and had no idea you were such a gifted poet.

Cathy said...

Ruth -

You read it aloud. Such kindness to share that with me. I think yours may be the only human voice beyond mine to have done so. Thank you. It somehow validates - makes real my little poem - my cri de coeur.

Anvilcloud said...

Choices can be tough, but growing things are very forgiving and generally thrive despite our mistakes. Maybe that's a key: to be growing in some way.

I don't mind poetry, but I don't usually read it if that makes any sense. I probably should, however, as it often touches me in some, often inarticulate, way. Thanks for sharing your talent.

Cathy said...

Anvil Cloud -

That is a most interesting observation. Yes, I guess growth implies a certain suppleness - an ability to bend before the wind.

I've always enjoyed poetry, but have to admit to not exploring the broad range of its practitioners as much as I should.

LauraHinNJ said...

Congratulations again for your fine poem, Cathy! I think it might've been nice to go and read your poem and bask in a bit of glory for it, as scary as that thought might be for you. Something to think about for the next time.


I'm mostly kidding, of course, as I could never have the courage to do something similar.

I wonder, did you have something particular in mind when you wrote it or did you just sort of get carried away with the words? I wonder always how poems are made or if they just sort of happen in the hands of a gifted writer.

Cathy said...

Laura -

Thanks so much. Ah, yes - but you are able to stand before a classroom. I have trouble saying my name without my voice trembling in a group of new people :0)

The poem came as a result of year of heart-breaking decision making. It involved beloved pets. But that experience blended with a concurrent concern about problematic relationships. I spent many hours musing over these matters in our local botanical gardens. I watched with interest and often pain as the gardeners did what they needed in order to preserve the health and survival of plants and trees. The poem fell onto the page in one afternoon. You're sweet to have asked. I'd not put this in words before. Thanks.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I enjoyed reading your poem, reading in public becomes easier once you've done it for the first time! (Though even if you've done it a lot, the nerves can still strike!).

swamp4me said...

Beautiful poem. And your decision not to go is just an example of necessary pruning - you are clipping that limb in order to help nurture the core. No regrets there.

Pam said...

A beautiful poem, the last lines brought tears to my eyes.

I always read poems more than once and always aloud at least once. For me, the best way to get the full meaning and all the emotion.


Mary said...

Cathy, I'm sorry I'm late reading blogs. I, too, read it aloud twice. You are very gifted and I get it. Choices can be life-altering.

I would never imagine that you are uncomfortable speaking in public. Your words flow beautifully! Get a lesson from Donna in confidence building. I admit I get a little "dry mouth" in front of an audience sometimes...

Congratulations! I understand your choice to forego the trip. Take care of you and your husband. Good choice.

threecollie said...

You are so talented! Sorry you couldn't make your trip and congratulations on winning the award.
I can't speak in public either but because I write a newspaper column folks assume that I am comfortable doing so and are always asking me too....but I am chicken. lol
It was a good weekend to be home.

Cathy said...

C. G. Poet -

Do you have a favorite among your poems that flows outward more easily than others - perhaps one that lights comfortably on your audiences hearts?

Cathy said...

Swampy -

What a kindness. I like to believe that your observation is the tender truth - that there is indeed a consistency between the poem and my choice not to attend the festival.

Thank you.

Cathy said...

Pam -

If it touched you, then I have connected with your gentle heart and am grateful for it. It gives me so much pleasure to know these words and cadences and the thoughts that move with them sifted briefly through your day.

Thank you.

Cathy said...

Mary -

It bears repeating that it is such a pleasure to know that good people are reading my poem and 'getting' it.

Yes, I'd love a confidence seminar from Donna, but I imagine the best therapy is experience and I'm pretty careful to steer clear of that :0D

Like Laurie and her experience with Dale - the choice was so easy here - the reward for giving love is deeper and broader than any public acknowledgment of achievement.

Thanks, Mary.

Cathy said...

Three Collie -

Thanks so much. It doesn't surprise me to hear that you write a newspaper column. Your posts are always pithy and engaging. I'd love to know what musings and information you offer in your column and how we might read it.

I guess I understand that people would imagine that writing skills might go hand in hand with speaking skills. Wrong :0D

Lynne said...

Oh Cathy- I love your poem! I too read it aloud several times and find it speaks to me.

"The pruner knows his hands' mistake"

I really like that like line. I greatly admire your gift.

Bonita said...

I love your poem too, but then, just about all of your posts seem like poetry. I wish you the very best during this quiet time of healing and restoration.

For decades I had a hard time reading out loud in front of people - then, as we did these Ruhi classes, I had to read as part of a group dynamic....and now, those jitters are gone! I think it was the repetition, a type of flooding. I'm glad it happened.

Floridacracker said...

Very nice. Hard to turn down a trip to Key West tho.

Cathy said...

Lynne -

Thanks so much! It just tickles me that you read it aloud and made my little poem vibes move the air in Minnesota.
We poets always like to know a favorite line, a turn of phrase that worked for a reader. Thank you :0)

Laurie said...

I am in awe of your talent, Cathy. I don't even know what to say. You are amazing.

Cathy said...

Bonita -

It means a great deal that you find poetry in my musings because that is what I've always found in your thoughtful postings.

I suppose it's never to late to teach this old dog new tricks and flooding might do the trick if only I could keep my nose above the water:0)

Thanks so much for your wishes for healing and restoration. A little bit of Spring would start us down that road!

Cathy said...

F C -
Ah! My riddle worked, then. I'm so pleased you stopped by to enjoy my little celebration. Thanks.

Tho Key West would have been lovely in person - I traveled there in spirit and am satisfied with the voyage.

Cathy said...

There's my Laurie!

I've been thinking about you and Dale so much. My poetry pales beside the bright light of your love for your cousin. The choices you've witnessed and the choices you've made to take this journey with Dale - they ennoble us all as fellow humans.

Thank you.

Mary said...

You know, Cathy, I just revisited and read through the comments. I am blown away at the talent all of these people possess and others we visit. Incredible talent! Just wonderful! And the best part is that all of these people have so much to offer and are willing to share it. I feel blessed to have this opportunity.

Cathy said...

Mary! Yes! Yes! Aren't we wonderful?!

Cuppa said...

Goodness I'm late reading this blog. Don't know what has been consuming my thoughts these days and caused me to miss this posting.

First let me say congratulations on your award. Bravo dear friend! I understand the decision to stay home and tend to your roots at this time instead of bursting into flower on the branch. Wise choice.

"as he stifles regret with a tight-throated sob,
about the error for the things in his care."

We have all experienced that "tight-throated sob" when we feel we made an error in judgment and someone else suffered as a result of our actions.

Poetry can put a finger on our pain and describe our feelings like nothing else can. Thank you for this beautiful poem.

Cathy said...

Oh, Cuppa - I guess you might have a good little reason for being distracted :0) But, I'm so glad you made your way over for a little distraction.

Yes, the tone of regret is great in this poem and as I said - I wish the award had come for some great soaring piece. Alas - that probably won't come from me. Perhaps when I was in my twenties and filled with youthful momentum.

Thank you, Cuppa - my fellow Mary Oliver aficionado - If you found it beautiful - I'm very satisfied.

(If this blinking weather every improves - my husband and I intend to do a little 'bursting into flower on the branch' side by side:0)

LauraHinNJ said...

Thanks for explaining some of the magic of poem-making, Cathy. Would love to see more as you're willing to share.

Cathy said...

Watch out what you wish for Laura :0) I wish I felt confident about my poetry. Maybe I've just been around it too long.

Dee said...

Very good and I can see why you have been chosen. I have gotten away from poetry reading but frost is one of the best.

Patrice said...

Beautiful, Cathy! I am in awe of your skill in writing in traditional form and meter--something I will probably never master. As for reading in public, I started out by reading some of my favorite poems written by others, then slowly started reading my own--first by reading to only a handful of people. I would love to hear you read this. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Cathy said...

Dee -

Thanks. So sweet of you to drop by. Welcome. Yes, Robert Frost has always been my favorite poet. To have my name linked with his in even the most minor way - is heaven :0)

Cathy said...

Patrice -

I'm so pleased you read it and approve. With your talent and love of poetry - that means a great deal.
Thanks so much.

Perhaps I should try to read it aloud again if only for myself - still . . .can't imagine doing it in front of many people.

I hope I'll be reading more of your poetry (?)