Sued51's Blog











{July 8, 2020}   What’s in a Purse?

Rumi and the Red Handbag

Before I read “Rumi and the Red Handbag” by Shawna Lemay, I would have answered this question in a very literal way: all the things I think I might need on any given day. I am not a fashionista; my purse is just a necessary tool of life. This book made me see purses in a new way, as a metaphor for life.

“The purse is a diary containing the scattered sprawl and patient sticky grunge of life. It’s a skin, a husk, it holds guts and gizzards. Think of the disruptive depths, the darkness of a purse! The purse is a portal, a hinged door. It’s the heavy burden to the bruised portal of our intimate murky depths, our tranquil and far-off selves. We carry these objects relentlessly, courageously, anonymously, absentmindedly.”

And there is so much more!! Those words are part of a long soliloquy about purses by the character Ingrid-Simone, or I.s. as she is alternately known in the novel. She is one of two characters working in a shop called Theodora’s Fine Consignment Clothing (Lemay had me right there, I once dreamed of owning Theodosia’s Tea Shop in Glasgow KY…it captured my imagination) . Working with each other all day they become friends of a fashion, but though the character telling the story paints us a picture of I.s. as an amazing person, she discovers she didn’t know Ingrid-Simone at all.

This book is deceivingly short or small but so FULL of beautiful language and life lessons — just like a woman’s purse can be.

I have been following Shawna’s blog for a while (Transactions with Beauty) and really wanted to read her book (it came out in 2015). I ordered it online during quarantine. For me, it was like taking a bite of a freshly made truffle, and I savored the smooth deliciousness of it. And, thinking of my own purse, it inspired me to write a poem.

Overladen

Everything in my life is too small.

The purse I lug around

fat with old receipts,

salvaged change, and

everything I think I could need

on any given day.

My apartment and closet

crammed too — bursting with

things I refuse to give up.

Yet, I am frugal to the point

of deprivation;

I clutch tight with claws

and fists and defend,

defend my junkyard life

like a vicious dog.

All my life I’ve known nothing

but making do,

worrying the same old bone,

funneling my needs and dreams

into what I already have —

the only way I know to stay full —

constricting to fit the vessel.

In love too, I’ve shrunk what I want

into you:

someone I see so little,

someone whose life

is elsewhere — you —

holder of my stifled desire,

my dear old bone.

 

copyright 2020 Susan Merrifield Desrocher

 

But don’t be distracted by my poetic efforts…read the 140-pg book, “Rumi and the Red Handbag” which is one long beautiful poem, and maybe you’ll buy a new purse, or write a poem of your own.

 



{July 8, 2020}   And Then This Came Out…

And We Are On Track For…?

Of all times not to be able to express myself — I have struggled to write and keep up with my journal recently. An excerpt from a couple of days ago:


I don’t know why I’m writing less, not keeping up with my journals. During these unprecedented times I should be writing more…(Bear Witness as Margaret Atwood recently suggested) Somehow I don’t know what to say — I just feel– like a raw wound, an exposed nerve — Why is the loneliness so painful?

But yesterday I sat with the ball of sadness, tossing it from hand to hand and thought to thought and wrote this stream-of-consciousness “poem:”

 

The sadness is a heaviness we are all dragging around —

with all we are leaving behind, why does what we still carry

seem so heavy?

what else should be left behind?

Things we thought we knew —

what would never change —

we wake to summer gray, day after day,

a fog of uncertainty:

will the sun come out today or will it rain?

We wait and we wait, for what?

what comes next?

Yet the usual flowers bloom at their usual time,

but not us, not us.

I feel like fall is already here —

my edges are crinkling and I am shrinking —

the winter will come in the usual way

and masks will become scarves,

pulled up over mouths that don’t speak —

don’t speak of the sadness, maybe it will go away,

like this year, this long-short endless year

this year unimagined and unlived.

Copyright Susan Merrifield Desrocher



{April 15, 2020}   Surviving during the Pandemic

A bee enjoying azalea

Keeping Busy

Being someone who needs nature for my mental health, this has been a tough couple of months. I have been out walking my neighborhood and some woods (safely with a mask, of course) whenever the weather cooperates. I have also been reading and writing a lot. This is one of the poems I have written during this isolation. This is survival for me.

 

Pandemic Response

 

This earthbound isolation is like quicksand,

survival by being still,

endless waiting, waiting,

keeping hands busy, mind empty.

 

But I need to ride the clouds spread

on the searing blue sky,

burrow myself into bright blossoms like a bee,

douse my eyes in the water of ponds’

shivering reflections searching for life –

tadpoles or tiny fish —

only this, only this

keeps me alive.

 

Susan Merrifield Desrocher

c 2020



{June 18, 2019}   Women Under Scrutiny

I have been pretty much MIA in the blogging universe for the last couple of years. I am busy working and trying to make headway with my photography and writing in the real world. And finally I have something to celebrate!

I had a poem chosen to be included in this anthology! I can’t write a better synopsis than this paragraph from the back of the book:

“Women Under Scrutiny is an honest, intimate examination of the relationships we have with our bodies, hair, and faces, how we’ve been treated by the world based on our appearance — and how we have treated others.” All proceeds go to Rosie’s Place in Boston, a very worthy cause!

You can purchase it on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Women-Under-Scrutiny-Anthology-Stories/dp/173209361X

 

A great big thank you to Randy Susan Meyers and Brooklyn Girl Books for putting this together! And for her wonderful new novel “Waisted” about women struggling with the issue of weight loss in our judgmental society.

 



{November 8, 2018}   SAD is real

leaves blowing

Frenzied leaves

Every year around this time I go through it. I have my reasons: feeling disconnected at the holidays, my birthday, the anniversary of my failed marriage, the anniversary of my beloved father’s death. Despite this defensive litany, I know it started long before any of that. It is the grayness outside, the darkness inside. It is an annual battle; it is my civil war.

 

Civil War

One would think after all my years
I would be better prepared for this annual battle,
but I’m never sure exactly which day it will begin.

It could be early autumn:
the first chilly day, when the north wind barks its arrival,
sending multi-colored leaves into a frenzied formation,
a whirling activity that mesmerizes me in place.
Or it could be late autumn, when the dried leaves
huddle in the hollow places before the snow comes.
Or it could be when the holidays advancing
with their flags and torches beneath gray skies
and heavy clouds, like a low cellar ceiling,
fans my fears with a kind of claustrophobia.

But sometimes it is a sudden attack —
coming face to face with another birthday,
a civil war, the most brutal of battles,
so close-up and personal,
and the best I can do is cowardly sneak
away from the fray,
and stay away from mirrors.

C 2017 Susan Desrocher



{October 2, 2018}   Mourning Petty

Tom PettyI was writing in my 10-yr journal this morning; each page contains an entry for the same day for ten different years. I saw that one year ago we got the news of the Las Vegas shooting and the death of Tom Petty. It affected me deeply. I cried at work; the woman in the cube across from me played Tom Petty songs all afternoon. It motivated me to search for this drawing I had done in my younger years. Also, it motivated me to write this poem.

MOURNING PETTY

It was already a tumultuous time:

floods and hurricanes washing away

cars, homes, and lives.

The morning of that day

brought news of a horrifying mass murder;

a sniper in sin city,

mowing down music lovers.

Then came the unbearable

cherry on top:

Petty found lifeless,

plugged in/unplugged.

The news was confused

yet clear.

He was gone.

My brother told my mother

I lost “my man,”

referring to the sketch I drew

when I was young,

and so was Petty.

For a few years his image smirked

on my bedroom wall

as I rebelled against a “normal life,”

following music from club to club,

thirsty for meaning.

His nasal voice held emotion like cupped hands;

Wildflower, listen,

there’s no need to be thirsty

when you can drink from the spring

of creativity and life.

Forty years’ worth of his music

and it felt as if he told the story

of all our lives through song.

American girl, he reminds me,

keep searching.

Copyright 2017 Susan Merrifield Desrocher



{March 18, 2018}   Thinking of William Blake

When I took a class on the Romantic poets in college, William Blake was one of my favorites. I remember watching the movie “Bull Durham” not long after that at a time when I was crazy about baseball (and Kevin Costner), and I loved the movie even more when Susan Sarandon’s character quoted Blake at Costner’s character!

Today I was getting ready for a writing workshop that I run once a month, looking through a (VERY) old poetry book (copyright 1876!) and I came across one by Blake. It is funny how sometimes the right poem comes up at the right time. I especially love when I can’t put my own feelings into words and come across words by someone else that describe my feelings or situation better than I can.

I was walking through a graveyard yesterday while out taking pictures and I was taken by two matching gravestones. Not only do they pair well with each other, I think they pair well with Blake’s poem. What do you think?

gravestones

Husband and wife headstones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GARDEN OF LOVE

I went to the garden of love,

And saw what I never had seen;

A chapel was built in the midst,

Where I used to play on the green.

 

And the gate of this chapel was shut,

And “thou shalt not” writ over the door;

So I turned to the garden of love,

That so many sweet flowers bore.

 

And I saw it was filled with graves,

And tomb-stones where flowers should be;

And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,

And binding with briars my joys and desires.

 

WILLIAM BLAKE

 



{March 7, 2018}   Fireless Dragon

House

 

 

Jackie Paper has left.

 

I crawl like a turtle,

too big and too green

to hide,

losing bits of myself

behind

on the pathway

back to my cave.

 

One last turn of my head

slow and stiff,

to see no one

skipping across

my shadow,

only the lost

pieces of me like

a moat of glass,

glistening colors

in the setting sun

that catch and pierce my eyes,

a simple explanation

for my tears.

 

Susan Merrifield Desrocher



{February 7, 2018}   Screwed Up Love

It seems I am often not patient enough to let poems percolate. Sometimes I just feel like I want to move on to something that is more relevant to my present time; after all I just keep writing more and more, and there is just so much paper!! I have been desperately trying to go through them all and put all the versions of the same poems into file folders. Another step in my never-ending efforts to consolidate and simplify.

As part of this process, I have donated a lot of clothes, books, household items, even jewelry — but not these, never these — my screw in, screwed-up love earrings.

Spiral Earrings

Lots of Screwed up Love

I was your rebound girl,
the quick intermission in the drawn-out drama
of your epic love for her.
But I couldn’t see that then.

You were that guy
across the room,
my dark handsome romance hero.
I was drawn to you
like I was to rocks when I was a child:
I loved holding them
because they felt solid,
yet could contain crystals
or layers of color
if broken open.

You soon went back to her,
and instead I had to break
my all-encompassing love for you
into manageable pieces:
I buried the jealousy and resentment,
safeguarded the memories
and held onto our friendship
dear as a first stuffed toy.

Ten years later
I let go;
I married someone
who forced me to deny
my need for you,
grow up, leave you behind.

Thirty years later, minus the husband,
I wish I could glue it all back together,
embrace the whole.
I pull out the Christmas card
you gave me when we were still
an open possibility, a hollow geode.

You had signed the card, “Lots of screwed up love.”
Back then I had clung desperately to the word, “love”
not connecting it to the gift that came with it —
a pair of unusual earrings –
crazy spirals that wound
into my earlobes,
impossible to lose without
being ripped out;
just as the shards of your smile and laugh
twisted themselves into my heart,
and embedded there.
Now I know “love”
was not the important word:
“screwed up” was.



{January 4, 2018}   Skating on Thin Ice

Ice Skating

Ice Skating

 

SKATING ON THIN ICE

Too many indoor days bundled
together drew me out into the record chill.
At the pond in my old hometown
a few hardy souls I didn’t know
were skating in ski masks
in the early winter dusk.
With my camera I froze
their silhouettes against the shimmering ice
like pinned starfish.

I could be crazy,
a crazy craving headlines,
at any cost,
so I tried to be subtle
with my snaps,
keep my zoom lens distance,
not alarm the nervous parents
in parkas on the dock
waving their children in.

I stood on the treed shore,
remembering solid-color snowsuits
and Wonder bread bags in boots,
hand-knitted mittens, and laughing
slides across the same ice
without skates.
Back before fake news and Facebook
our parents shooed us outside;
they trusted our judgment
and the good will of others,
and we trusted the winter ice
to stay solid
and unchanging
beneath us.



et cetera
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