Hero's Poetry Journey, week 8
Hello, Poetry Friend
It’s decision time, here on Trial Road. And it’s a whole ordeal.
When we make choices, especially as mothers, we don’t know the result. We never know what would have happened if we had chosen another path. The choosing is itself our ordeal.
While straightening my child’s room one Thursday morning, I found a journal, laying open (which never, ever happened). I made a choice that as a writer I had vowed to never make: I read the entry. The words sounded very suicidal. I called our family’s counselor, who said we needed to pull our child out of school immediately for a session.
Would you believe this happened on Halloween?
By evening all seemed to be okay. The counselor scheduled another appointment the following week. The grandparents came to take the child to dinner. I went to church, not knowing what else to do, and thanking God the eve of All Saints and/or the next day was a holy day of obligation.
Several people told me I overreacted. I’ll never know. Because most of our choices are not right vs. wrong or good vs. bad, but nests vs. mountains.
And there we stand, “saw in hand.”
“Choices” by Tess Gallagher
The woman in this poem has an impossible choice. She wants a view: “a view to snow / on the mountain.” I think of Never Summer Range in Rocky Mountain National Park, how cool and comforting it is to see snow on Chapin, Chiquita, and Ypsilon, even in August, when back home I can only see “a landscape August has already drained of green.” But I don’t want to deprive a bird family of their home in “the uppermost branches” just so I can have a room with a view.
To cut “saplings” is a choice. To leave them uncut is also a choice. The saw grows heavy in our hand.
Read Gallagher’s poem. Jot down what you notice, what you like, what you don’t, what questions you have, and at least one way in which the poem speaks to your soul.
Write about an ordeal which involved an impossible choice.
Read Gallagher’s poem aloud. Pick one phrase or line or stanza you can tuck deep in your heart.
Write your own haiku about this stage of your hero’s poetry journey. (Mine is at meganwillome.com.) If you like, email me what you write.
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