Wednesday, August 27, 2008

11 years ago today...

We buried Tommy - giving him back to God. Letting him go after a lifetime of walking on eggshells. Each year we spend a weekend remembering him - say a little prayer and share our thoughts. And every year is different, depending on how you grew to understand yourself differently. Depending on how strong you are to see new and painful things.

This past year was all about really getting angry with Tommy. For what he did - took his life FROM us. TO us. AWAY from us. It always takes me a while to get angry - to just realize I might be. But this year was a huge growth to me, were it not for Tania's poetry class I helped teach (just the bookmaking & design part) I would not be the person in touch with more of the truth as I am right now.

I wrote a few poems and sent my sentimental thoughts of missing him away. I gutted myself - exposed an angry monster who had been ignored for too long. It was a wonderful cathartic experience. Almost too scary to revisit.

Here is the first real poem about my losing him. The day we got the call from New Mexico that he had finally taken his life. Walking across our lawn to meet my mother - whose face and posture I will never forget.

I am grateful to have a voice. To remember details - to take their haunting power away by really looking at them.

And I am so grateful to the students of the poetry class and to Tania, who sat with me and helped me work though it. You were all very generous with your ears and comments.

Two Mouths

I am walking across the lawn
to the aching arms of my mother
who has just learned Tommy took his life.

She looks just like the mother in Picasso’s Guernica.
Face distorted, she cradles her dead child
and cries out with two mouths,
one nested inside the other.

I never understood the meaning of
that painting until now.

Cubism distorts and slices
into space — into our understanding
of how time is supposed work.

How that arrogant Spaniard
knew how to paint a mother’s grief —

How my brother could give his mouth
back to our mother - no longer his
no longer
to his own body -
crying back to the being
who once gave him life.

Anne Elser


Leigh Anna said...

It's beautiful. Interesting how pain like that can sear those images in your mind. Thing you want to forget but just can't. I am sorry that you had to go through that...I said a prayer for you today.

Anonymous said...

I love your beautiful interpretation of Guernica. That is what I love about art. Everyone sees something different and significant to their own personal world. Thank YOU so much for sharing your poem and thoughts!

heighlo. said...

beautiful and brave.

minus five said...

i don't think it ever stops.

which sucks and is kind of awesome all at the same time.

Anne Elser said...

Thanks everyone for your generous comments. Thank you thank you!

Ana B. said...

wow. that was beautiful, anne. a beautiful description of this crazy cycle. Made me cry.

Anne Elser said...

Thank you Ana and it's nice to meet you!