For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.
Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme
I am a late bloomer as a writer and am still finding my way playing with words. I have come to appreciate the idea of a muse; having at times, an almost out-of-body experience where it feels like words flow from my fingertips as I type in ways that are separate from my conscious brain. When this happens, I wait anxiously, like an onlooker, to see what my fingertips have to say as the words appear on the screen. Not that my writing hits the page in its final form with a first draft. My writing process consists of trying to get a first draft done fairly quickly; quick being a relative term as it can range from one hour, to one day to one month. From there I tend to tinker endlessly, changing lines, changing words, re-ordering structure, reading the poem out loud over and over again, with literally dozens of edits, until it reads at least to me, without awkwardness. I will sometimes come back to a poem over a year later and make edits, finding the fallow period helps my subconscious smooth out flaws.
I am still amazed by the well of experience from which inspiration arises. Sometimes it starts with one word. An example is the sonnet Simple Praise. It came about while reading Lila by Marilynne Robinson. In it is there is a bible passage that re-occurs throughout the book. The passage is from Ezekiel and is relayed by Robinson as:
And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was cut, neither was thou washed in water to cleanse thee; thou was not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. No eye pitied thee, to do any of these things unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou was cast out in the open field, for that thy person was abhorred, in the day thou wast born. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee weltering in thy blood, I said unto thee, Though thy art in thy blood, live; yea, I said unto thee, Though thou art in thy blood, live!.
A powerful metaphor for a middle-aged man in the midst of his mid-life crisis; get up, stop wallowing, take responsibility for your true skin, taste your blood and live.
The first time I read it, a word jumped out at me – weltering. It’s one of those words, that I thought I knew the definition, but on it coming into my consciousness more deeply, I doubted whether I fully comprehended its meaning. So it sent me to the dictionary.
- a a
- or wind.
Definition from Dictionary.com
Several of the definitions held portent to what was happening in my life, in particular the concept of being deeply entangled and in a state of commotion and turmoil. At the time, I was attempting to use poetry as a vehicle to imperfectly capture portions of my spirituality and this one word, weltering, began swirling in my mind and from it a sonnet emerged.
The sonnet Simple Praise intentionally has connections to Reinhold Neibor and his focus on realism. On this week before Christmas, as I prepare to celebrate with family and friends, I feel more strongly the passage of time. Christmas is my yearly reminder on the possibilities of rebirth and renewal. It is a time I try to strengthen my internal connections to hope and celebration. It is a time to be thankful. And to remind myself to live, truly live, in the coming new year!
by T.A. Fry
Weltering in the grace of love’s remand,
What brokenness have I put right today?
God is unknowable. Yet I pray
To avoid the trap of greed’s quicksand.
Cold foot in mouth, hot tongue in hand,
I offer restitution my own to pay.
To lessen debt’s cycle of dismay,
And honor my debtors, if not their demands.
In silence I ask what’s to be done?
Make the best of all things in my power.
And accept the rest as it plainly comes?
Bless me with useful work to inherit.
I’ll not worship thee with obscure merit.
Only simple praise for the setting sun.
© T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.