Bruce Meyer readings

Please post below your reflections on the readings

50 Responses to Bruce Meyer readings

  1. Bruce Meyer says:

    More to come. Keep the comments coming and I’ll keep the responses flowing. If you could, please indicate the number of the poem for me.

  2. Bruce Meyer says:

    I’ll respond to more posts tomorrow. I’m finding your comments very enlightening — a real privilege. Thank you so much for them.

  3. Robin says:

    That if I grow…
    1. One word – Redemption

    2. One sentence – It is autumn and the golden light bathes the scarlet maples in rays of blood.

    3. One paragraph – We are overhearing a private conversation which is a reaffirmation of life, appreciation for beauty but tinged with suffering. How can the maples be “crowned” in light and “pierced hands raised” without evoking the image of Christ on the cross with his crowns of thorns? Well, it’s obvious if you know the story about God who so loved the world as the narrator seems to love the person with the beautiful smile. And “all this is yours” is the world after the sacrifice. One wonders if this world isn’t the new invented one mentioned at the beginning? Like a cleverly crafted round.

    4. Stream of consciousness – Imagination is a wonderful thing. I used to think that everyone had an imagination but life has shown me that this is a false premise. Although, some people seemingly without imagination might have one buried under tons of silt, deposited one shovel at a time during their childhood or formal education. In a play by Jean Anouilh, one reads a definition of happiness – like a small, brown walnut strewn upon our path which one can crack, like a “forever sky”, I imagine. The clear cerulean blue that makes our heart rejoice, that thin layer of atmosphere surrounding Gaia with its hole. When sunlight and sunshine becomes hazardous instead of beneficial. There is grass growing through a crack in my deck, untamed by darkness, striving to reach “gentle ecstasy”, a grasslike version of epiphany. Now, I’m cheating aren’t I, reading over the poem more than once, my own training in literary analysis tripping me up.

    5. Tweet – Pierced hand, pierced heart reaching out to blue skies, yellow sun, green grass, new world of expectations, backlit happiness. Smile!

    6. Title – Hope Springs Eternal
    I’m inspired by the first two lines, with the possibility of undoing tedium and suffering and blahness and creating perfect conditions for happiness even though there is a price to pay, as pierced hands reach out to hold humanity. Adam and Eve have left the building…

  4. Robin says:

    The waves are…

    1. One word – Launched

    2. One sentence – The writer follows a billowy path onto a wave-tossed universe (a pun!)

    3. One paragraph – As the Inuit build Inukshuks to mark the way, so do writers follow markers amidst the foam of inspiration. There is risk in living and in writing as one can be swept off to sea. The act of writing is linked to our very survival, nonetheless, and grounds us as stones are both anchors and ballast. And all the while, the wind blows, the fickle wind that can change our fortune, carrying us to home port or to deadly doldrums.

    4. Stream of consciousness – Poetry and poker: an unlikely mixture of images. There are gypsies lurking behind inspiration, as if magic is involved in the act of writing and tumultuous waves of emotion wash over the deck of cards. But they are not Tarot cards, just the ordinary ones with the red backs we used to play “crazy 8’s” or “Go Fish” or Solitaire. The latter being races with the devil, my grandmother told me. As if the denizens of hell were summoned to her white, metal kitchen table and took interest in mundane after school activities. On the lake, the white caps unfurled in unceasing rhythms, continuous mantras of water blown by the prevailing winds. In the morning, dried weeds on the shore, empty shells the remnants of seagulls’ ravenous feasts. Grey water tempting children to grey depths of sand-choked oblivion. Not a sailboat in sight – only the harsh powered Evinrudes screaming past in testosterone fury or abandon, daring the wind and water to halt their progress. Going places. To Iron Island or Manitou Island, to snare guileless fish with sharp hooks and dangling blue plastic worms. Mastering creation: one round bottle of beer after another, while granite outcroppings covered with patches of lichen lace grew warm in the sun.

    5. Tweet: Stone heart, stone angel, watch over me. Luck, be a lady tonight and always. Set a course for humanity. A beacon over the wave-tossed deep.

    6. Title: Blockade Runner

    I first read this expression in Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind referring to steam ships that would try to get through the 3500 mile Union blockade off the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico. I didn’t know what a blockade was and looked it up. I think that it is symbolic of the obstacles that are described in the poem, with references to waves and stones and pointing the way “for others as an act of love”. Sailors are very superstitious and sea vessels are invariably associated with voyages of discovery, following untried courses that eventually become established passages for other generations.

  5. Belize says:

    Reading #10 – The Old Woman

    One Word:
    Stamped

    One sentence:
    Random numbers… brings to mind that no matter how much we wish to plan life or live out our plans, there is a certain randomness to it that cannot be controlled or commanded… stuff happens and sometimes leaves a mark that cannot be erased.

    One paragraph
    Things that must not be forgotten. How many times have we heard that or some variation of that? Every time there’s a huge crisis, or a war, or a catastrophe, we say things like let’s never forget, or something must be done to never have such and such a thing happen again. And yet, history has shown that history repeats itself over & over all the time.
    If we could choose, what would be better? To never forget, which might only keeps alive whatever happened in the past and have it recur in the present, or being able to forget and start a new story focusing on the present and future opportunities that are yet to happen.

    Stream of consciousness

    Sights, sounds, tastes, lights… again the feeling of textures as I read this last passage. At first I couldn’t grasp anything, then as I read again & again, I had thoughts of how there are so many things everywhere around that remind us of something from the past. We see something and we experience either déjà vu or it takes us back to a memory, a feeling; we hear a song, a melody, a noise and we think about days gone by; eating is all about remembering tastes, textures, blends, etc. Memories do fade away at some point, but are they really ever completely gone, can things be completely erased from the recesses of a healthy mind…?
    It seems that our memory influences how things were and are experienced and recounted later on, like a prism reflecting light in different colours.

    My Tweet on Reading #8

    Footprints do & can fade away.
    Witness how 1 appears in the sand…
    mere seconds & it’s swept away
    leaving only a contour of itself…

    Title

    Glass menagerie

    Why?

    Because those terrible things she saw were perpetrated and experienced by many different people and the poem illustrates for me that like glass, peoples lives are broken and shattered by events that can define how everything looks, feels and sounds.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      I have a sense that you are struggling with this poem, “The Hard Facts,” as a reader as much as I struggled with it as a writer. The terrible and awesome thing about such ‘hard facts’ is that they are hard, that they are impossible to fully comprehend, and can only be explained in what amounts to side-bar issues that are, in themselves, impossible to explain.

  6. Belize says:

    Reading #9 – Coupled….

    One Word:
    Childhood

    One sentence:
    The gentle words and soothing care of a mother… that’s what the words “coupled, they speak the praise of love”… remind me of.

    One paragraph
    When you are small and afraid, their softness can redeem…. Everyone who reads this might wonder who “they” represent? Or will they? I wonder if “they” for the author are words, sentences, and strings of letters to form a poem, or is that too much of a cliche? For me, “they” represent smiling eyes, a touch, a friend, or a child playing.

    Stream of consciousness

    They reach and seize a moment… what an evocative phrase. Makes me think of such overused slogans like “Carpe Diem” or “Follow Your Bliss”… yet these two strings of few words have had a tremendous impact on my life. I heard the first one in a film, yes a Hollywood movie… but it so caught my imagination that I kept wondering long after about seizing every day, yet often I do not. I’ve been striving to create, lead and follow my path, my bliss since I first heard these words from Joseph Campbell….and as I heard them again a few weeks ago, I was reminded that I forgot.

    My Tweet on Reading #8

    I thought of W. Blake’s
    To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.

    Title

    Tightrope

    Why?
    More & more these days, I hear people saying they want a “balanced life”… or they’ve “lost their balance”, or “can’t find balance” what does that all mean? Compared to what? Are we not creating our own tightropes and therefore the fear of losing one’s balance comes from that very created notion….

  7. Belize says:

    Reading #8 – The Waves are…

    One Word:
    Duality

    One sentence:
    Today I saw a bay and wanted to say let’s play until we lose our way!

    One paragraph
    I see the East Coast for some reason… waves, wind, shingles, bay. Feels like being in a Maritime surrounding, but an Eastern Maritime, not Pacific Coast one. I see New Brunswick or Nova Scotia or Maine… standing there, facing the ocean from a cove with the wind blowing in my ear and feeling peace….

    Stream of consciousness

    It’s like two stories weaving into one, yet each line standing alone however somewhat incomplete. It feels remote, unattainable (a theme I sense is recurrent in these works) and thus, leaves me as a reader wondering what it all means. Of course I can choose what it means to me… I suppose that’s what this is all about. What am I making of these strings of words…?
    That a life lived requires a delicate balance… that there is wind and waves and flurries and storms and just like nature, it flares up and subsides, flares up and subsides, ebbs & flows, yet while we say and think that, we are in a hurry to get somewhere, do something, be on the right track to where exactly?

    My Tweet on Reading #8

    If mankind could bind
    in an effort to remind
    all the others who do whine
    not to be so blind
    as they struggle to be kind
    so they can fit a world divine

    Title
    Tightrope

    Why?
    More & more these days, I hear people saying they want a “balanced life”… or they’ve “lost their balance”, or “can’t find balance” what does that all mean? Compared to what? Are we not creating our own tightropes and therefore the fear of losing one’s balance comes from that very created notion….

  8. Belize says:

    Reading #7 –

    My Tweet :

    Rozes R Rd
    Vilets R Blu
    Seemz lik Ur weaving a thred
    Leaves me quite askew
    Classmates R in awe
    Of Ur literary style
    Poetic verse and maw
    I wonder meanwhile…

    Title :
    Hollywood Bowl

    Why :
    Prior to being in a relationship, we see it unfolding in our imagination as something seen or heard about, something so magical and divine, and it is for a while (just like Hollywood movies). It’s like a bowl of shiny cherries that you covet, except that when you get your hands on it and eat the cherries … all that’s left are the pits. What then? I have absolutely no idea why this thought came into my mind… !

  9. voltan says:

    READING #10

    1 word –
    Poppies

    1 sentence –
    When I read this poem, I feel awe and sadness and hope and responsibility.

    1 paragraph –
    “its prism hands seizing the light” upends the conventional perspective that would have the light falling on the vase. This leads me to consider that I can shift my perspective from holocaust survivors as victims, to survivors as messengers from the divine and redeemers of our flawed humanity.

    Stream of Consciousness –
    For all its progress in technology, medicine, science and other fields, our civilization has taken enough backward steps (from Dachau to Darfur) that on the whole we are left with a world ever on the brink of self-annihilation. But maybe that’s what defines us; that we continue to walk the fine line between a collective barbarism, and the kind of sensibility that appreciates “the roses are opening”

    Tweet –
    Lest we forget. No more war! Never again war. # stopthewar

    Title –
    “Blooming roses”
    because the poem offers hope and possibility after a time of loss and resignation.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      This is a difficult poem for me to talk about for a number of reasons. I grew up in a predominantly Jewish area of Toronto (I was not Jewish but what a choir boy in a United Church Choir at St. George’s United) and many of the grandparents and even parents of the children who were classmates and playmates were Holocaust survivors. They had the number tattooed on their arms. One boy’s grandmother had survived Treblinka according to his mother who had been shipped out to Canada disguised as a Catholic school girl. The old woman sat by the hour in the back yard and stared at the roses her daughter grew. The sad fact, the hard fact (the title of the poem is “The Hard Facts”) is that mankind is capable of terrible depths of darkness while at the same time, almost by rote or instinct, constantly trying to create living metaphors for paradise and divine goodness in such absurd expressions as lawns and gardens. I find this poem hard to talk about and I found it hard to write because I could not and still cannot imagine or fathom or understand the terrible realities that Holocaust survivors experienced. My life was changed by a Holocaust survivor, a Dr. Eva Kushner who was Principal of Victoria College. I returned to Toronto after a horrible year in Windsor, my professional life broken, my hopes for a future in academe dashed because I ended up on the wrong end of a programmatic dispatch of people who could not help who they were but were being persecuted for who they were. It was Dr. Kushner (who, I believe, now lives in Montreal) who pointed me to the Great Books and to small but expansive work teaching on the fringes of the University of Toronto. My career regenerated from there. I owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude and I honour her as someone who valued what a person thinks and lives and feels and does for others rather than as someone who measures a person by appearances, associations or attributes. At the core of the grandmother’s statement in the poem “The roses are opening” is the recognition that even in a rose there is something that reaches beyond the horrors of mankind’s worst moments and actions: the scent of the rose. For as long as roses have existed and will exist that presence is there that is a tribute to something better than the rose, the rose’s love to explain itself to God in the kind of conversation that is almost impossible to put into words. I don’t buy the idea expressed by Teodore Adorno that “After Auschwitz, no poetry,” because poetry existed before Auschwitz, it will continue to exist because it is the human imperative of goodness to desire to seek a purpose in life, even if, in the words of many theologians of all persuasions, we cannot comprehend nor begin to understand who or what we are in conversation with to discover that purpose.

  10. voltan says:

    READING #9

    1 word –
    Grace

    1 sentence –
    They seem to be like angels, protecting us and allowing us to experiencing love.

    1 paragraph –
    When “they” are described as soft midway through the poem, I am left with a sense of freedom. A sense that the perils of this world are a distraction from what is achievable: love.

    Stream of Consciousness –
    I’m a little child again; enjoying “good things” – pleasures like candy; warm hugs; compliments and friends. As child, I’m fearful when these “good things” are threatened or go missing, and I count on the angels to protect me from the privation of the “good things”, and to introduce other good things that I never even imagined.
    As a child I want it all, I expect it all, I have it all, and then I grow up …

    Tweet –
    Angels are the knights of our imagination. They protect, from the tyranny of the status quo, our ability to explore and invent.

    Title –
    “Guardian Angels”
    because it speaks of dreams and of protection and of love.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      When we were children, my sister and I used to make up really stupid little songs to give ourselves the giggles. Some of the songs lasted a long time. One was a song about hands that began with the lines:

      “You need hands to help you keep your gloves on…”

      I was sitting on the porch at Manitoulin one day when this song started to go through my mind for no good reason. I started looking at my hands. Hands are very important to us because they are usually the first point of contact with another person. They are an extension of language (I grew up in a neighbourhood in Toronto where everyone talked with their hands as a kind of ethno-cultural action where language was not merely spoken but conducted like an orchestra). I starting giving serious thought to all the aspects of hands and what they mean to us spiritually. Marshall McLuhan’s old joke “Man’s got to dream or what’s a metaphor” jumped into my mind, and you can hear it enter into the consideration of the richness of hands. I often write poems this way, as catalogues of my mind and the various ways the mind can perceive things. So, you can hear McLuhan in in there.

      Every night when my daughter was young I used to put her to sleep my rubbing her back and then pressing my warm palm between her shoulder blades. She said it never failed to put her to sleep and made her feel warm, secure, and loved. It was our ritual bed-time thing following at least two story books. The final line of the poem, which, by the way is from The Spirit Bride and is titled “Hands” refers to the old Irish rhyme, “How many miles to Babylon? / Four score sir and ten. / How will you get there my son? / By candle light and back again.” This poem is something I wrote for my daughter, though that is not exactly apparent in the text.

  11. voltan says:

    READING #8

    1 word –
    Inukshuk

    1 sentence –
    This poem speaks to the frenzy of activity in which we live, and reminds us to heed the wisdom of the ancients to live an examined life.

    1 paragraph –
    There are three remarkable images in this poem:
    waves, which remind me of undulating continuous motion;
    stones, which remind me of permanence and solidity; and
    sleeves of a shingle bay which evokes direction and purpose.
    In synthesizing these images, a sense of wonder emerges.

    Stream of Consciousness –
    “We’ll somehow find our way” implies that there is a destination, which could be a place, but is more likely a state of mind. Given that the poem evokes movement – as in a journey,the state of mind may simply be that which is achieved at the end of a journey: the satisfaction and fulfilment of having arrived. Having succeeded. Having created and completed, we have found our way to the eternal.

    Tweet –
    Wind and waves and stones are the raw material that are moulded into a path of destiny.

    Title –
    “Waves of Living”
    because it evokes the constant motion of live being lived.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      I love the fact that you’ve caught the title for the poem that I gave it. That’s one of the things that really pleases a poet: when the idea is so clear and direct that the reader can give it the same name and get the full sense of the poem. Philip Larkin, as I mentioned on Sunday, has an essay in his book Required Writing that is titled “The Pleasure Principle.” Larkin makes the point that the poet should not give the reader too much latitude. That said, I like to think that a poem has latitude; but when poet and reader end up on the same page, well that is truly rewarding. I like what you have captured in the poem in terms of the three main images. I’m not sure I was communicating something that detailed, but I’m glad you see that there. I was merely describing the place in as much detail as I could. This is something I noticed the first time I really read (I had read him before but not with depth and detail) the poems of Derek Walcott. When Walcott had been discussed in classes and whatever, it was always assumed he was being exotic. Not so. He was being actual. I read him on the beach in St. Lucia. Being in St. Lucia and reading Walcott is a mind-blowing experience because things are as he describes them. What a good poem should do is to make the familiar strange (a dictum of Andrew Motion and Blake Morrison announced back in 1982 in England) but also the poem should honour its place in the world by transforming it into something that carries with it a resonance. I guess most poets do that. To my mind, whenever I write about something I am trying, very hard, to give it life on the paper and in the mind of the reader as well as to remind myself and the reader of the life that is so fluent in that place. And, of course, this is a poem about trying to find direction in a place, a spiritual direction, and that points the poem to an entirely different place.

  12. voltan says:

    Reading #7
    Tweet –
    What poetry sounds like when it adopts the methods of musique concrète.

    Title – “Beginnings”
    Because it is the common theme of the two entwined narratives.

  13. Violet says:

    The old woman

    1. One word – Survival

    2. One sentence – Plants and gardens are powerful symbols of life and it’s no wonder that one creation myth begins in the Garden of Eden.

    3. One paragraph – I’ve just read a book about a Polish Jew and his American-born daughter who go back to the old country, to the house that was stolen from their family when all Jews were sent to be slaughtered by the Nazis. They enter the house, divided into apartments, and bargain with the present tenants or owners for his mother’s porcelain dishes. They pay an outrageous price for them. They dig in the yard, the garden, because there is a story about buried treasure hidden there. And they find it – a photograph. Not only have they found tangible proof of a previous existence, the dishes and tea set, they can now gaze on the countenance of people that have been killed and with whom they share physical traits. The memory of these people will be alive within them. They have recaptured a parcel of the humanity that had been ripped away from them. Their family will continue and despite the grave loss, seem more complete from that day forward. The story is also memorable because the man loves to eat the food that he relished as a boy whereas his daughter is anorexic. This alludes to the intergenerational impact of loss and suffering, not unlike that experienced by the First Nations and Inuits who were sent to residential schools and returned, or not, with bruised souls. State inflicted torture.

    4. Stream of consciousness – My maternal grandmother loved her garden. She planted tea roses in the south border next to her house’s foundation, defying the cruelty of winter in northern Ontario. Behind the house, she tended a sizable vegetable garden which also included raspberries and melons. Invariably, the melons were stunted and the short growing season did not allow them to ripen. She kept on planting them. There were dark memories in the house, of babies stillborn and brought down the stairs by my oldest aunt to be delivered to the funeral parlour. At church, we prayed for the Jews at Christmas, in a gesture of magnanimous Christian charity, I surmised. My father was in the Canadian army during the Second World War and was in northern Germany when it ended. He drove an armoured half-track vehicle which towed a cannon so he traveled through the countryside in France, Belgium and Germany behind columns of infantry who bore the first salvos of enemy fire. The artillery pieces came from behind to reinforce the attack. Through the narrow slit in front of his driver’s seat, he saw rows of soldiers lying in ditches, eviscerated by machine gun fire. Once, he was resting in a rocking chair in an abandoned farmhouse and a mortar shell crashed through the roof, sped through the ceiling above him and landed at his feet – and didn’t explode. He had other near misses. At 93 years of age, he still feels guilty that he survived and others didn’t. Our survival rests on totally haphazard factors. That a country’s public service and military resources be harnessed to create death factories is a deliberate act. What are the odds governing the fact that individuals live through atrocities and survive to tell about them? I couldn’t begin to calculate them. The mechanics of hate are fathomless. State inflicted torture and death. What an abyssal pit. Our flowers redeem us. While at university, I had a poster in my dorm room that said: “Make love, not war.” It was covered with illustrations of psychedelic flowers and tendrils. A talisman against evil.

    5. Tweet – Bubba, I’m glad you made it. I am the light of your rainbow. The perfume wafting from your roses. We live.

    6. Title –
    Blessèd Life

    Despite loss and suffering, and the numbers tattooed on her arm, the grandmother lives and has experienced the joy of raising at least one child, if she could allow herself to rejoice, knowing that others have been destroyed. However, she is alive to watch the roses open. In old age, the smallest manifestations of life are a blessing and proof of continuity.

  14. Birdsong says:

    Coupled, they speak
    1. One word – Parenting

    2. One sentence – When I was a child in school, we were told that each one of us had a guardian angel sitting beside us to protect us, not unlike the image of the sword that protects in this poem.

    3. One paragraph – Of course, the guardian angel with the sword was a fighter as well as a protector and therein lies one of the first contradictions that one has to accept as part of life. The notion of absolute good and, conversely, of absolute evil doesn’t hold water. Some of our defenders can also wish us harm or want to control us and even hurt us with their love whereas our enemies force us to reach deep within us and to bring out our best qualities. The line about tracing the outline of a star along a path none have found is a testament to individuality and personal sovereignty, despite the care and shelter that we crave from those who love us.

    4. Stream of consciousness – There is delight in family as the charm of proximity and shared moments meld into the vibrations of similar cells and chromosomes. Sometimes, at family gatherings, one spots one’s nose on somebody else or similarly shaped ears and the wonder of shared characteristics provides a warm, tingly feeling of belonging which stimulates gregariousness. At other times, it is a liability when one observes growths or age-onset diseases or afflictions that could be our lot as we age. “Coupled” is also a loaded word as adults, a.k.a. parents can live together and have children but never learn how to work together as a team. Or be so wrapped up in their own problems that the child literally becomes the father or mother to the man or woman. However, there is a period of total dependency when parents assume the roles of giants. My grandmother would tell me stories of the “Petit poucet”, Tom Thumb, I suppose, who would be sheltered by magic from the evil giant who wanted to eat him, although the child would only be an hors d’oeuvres. Horses’ ovaries, a former colleague of mine called them, and always laughed at his own dumb joke, repeated ad nauseam. My mother’s mother told me this story to entertain me, using many different voices and inflections as the cookies baked in the oven of her wood stove. Come to think of it, the giant was a parent-figure, or a god-like figure, looming over children, threatening them, forcing them to live wary lives, to skitter out of his/her way, to learn to placate him/her, using their wits and charm and sense of humour to gain his/her favour and remain out of harm’s way. I come from a dysfunctional family. Now, who doesn’t? One learns to write one’s own book and to carry one’s own candle.

    5. Tweet – Fee-fi-fo-fum, I love you & will protect with angel wings & sharpened sword, as tongue, 4 you r mine to cherish or not based on my mood.
    6. Title – Elysium
    I chose this title based on the choral in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, “Ode to Joy”, an anthem of hope and a celebration of complete happiness.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      The poem you’re speaking of here is “Hands.” Hands are metaphors for relationships. Hands do so much for us. I had tried to write an earlier poem about hands many years ago, but it was discarded. I seem to recall from Sunday school days that we were taught to pray by putting out hands together. To me, our hands are our walk-talkie to God; and in many ways they are representative of the way God touches us in our lives (no pun intended). They protect what we need to protect (I was thinking of my daughter as I wrote this…she was very young at the time), and they carry a candle for us to light our way. I also find it fascinating that praying hands form not only trees arching over a road but also the shape of a church ceiling. Essentially when we are inside a church we are inside the metaphorical mechanism for direct contact with God — praying hands meeting over us to protect us and guide us.

  15. Treefall says:

    You can’t name
    1. One word – Surfacing

    2. One sentence – I can’t help but think that this poem is about self-awareness and self-discovery because of its references to mother’s milk and waking up in a nursery.

    3. One paragraph – Hearing a story is a part of oral history, an initiation into the world of fiction and imagination. But of course, truth is stranger than fiction and words can sting and sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. I’m slipping into the stream of consciousness phase because this poem is about a level of innocence that we possess before learning how to read. Learning how to read brings about wisdom. It’s about the Garden of Eden and the forbidden fruit of knowledge, of a time when one’s consciousness was at the level of an infant’s, one’s brain, a blank slate. That golden shimmering: is that innocence or the promise of knowledge?

    4. Stream of consciousness – The sweet golden hue of childhood has receded into the background like an image perceived through the milky haze of cataracts; pinpoints of light radiating outwards such as on a ripe dandelion ready to release its composite seeds into the prevailing winds. There are hints of happiness that must be captured heightened by the ability to think and use words. A harsh reality within our grasp, this release from the dreamless state of sentient beings swimming below the surface of full consciousness, grasping at the driftwood of words that eventually keep us afloat, lashed together to make sentences and stories. In my mind’s eye flash scenes of my pink bedroom and of a series of desks which were mine to colonize at school, bordered with blackboards and the swish and clack of starched headdresses, aprons and black rosary beads. Orange HB pencil stabbing my hand as I looked down at the piano keyboard instead of the musical score, lest I stop sight reading and learn how to play by ear. Lessons learnt according to the whims and wishes and dictates of an established order which straitjacketed my brain and confined my body into corsets of convention, all in the name of the omnipotent, all-seeing God, the deity of paternalistic control and promises of hell and damnation if disobedient. Where is the golden fleece of antiquity in all this? Was it consumed by the burning bush, God’s stentorian voice loudspeaking over the crackle of the sacrifice? How many babies thrown into the raging inferno to satisfy Baal?

    5. Tweet – Blindness and illiteracy force one’s mind to turn inwards, to see with the heart and soul, to name what is nameless.

    6. Title – Up Periscope or Through a Looking Glass Darkly
    The poem appeals mainly to the sense of sight where seeing is grasping unnamed truths, up from the subterranean depths of consciousness, although the ability to see is sometimes painful, like a submarine emerging from the depths only to be attacked by torpedoes after surviving the depth charges. Or, stepping through a mirror into the fog of reality only to perceive the fleeting nature of one’s mass and matter stuck on the other side.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      This was one of the poems I discussed in Montreal. I’m always intrigued by the concept of first memories, at what age they happen, and what they mean to us. These first memories are the foundation blocks of the bildungsroman that is, essentially, the story of our lives we tell ourselves. The question of what those memories mean is intriguing. Aquinas says that there are those moments of insight and fragments of knowledge that he calls “anagogic,” ideas that go beyond the capabilities and systems of expression. I recall Northrop Frye explaining anagogic to me and the ceiling opening up (or so it seemed) as he ascended in a cloud of angelic hosts. To put it simply, such moments as remain untitlted are those instants when we are changed but we can’t explain why. My first memory, as I suggested in the poem, was in my nursery late one night. Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man begins in the same manner. The strange thing is that those memories set the pattern for our lives — patterns that we sometimes lose sight of in our daily lives. Mine, in the poem, dates from Oct 1957. I was about six months old. I was just coming into language (very early, I’ve been told). My father returned home with a key chain fob that was maroon plastic, and if you flashed it one way it said “BA” and if you flashed it another way you saw a gas station attendant with a pointy peaked hat saying “fill it up.” I think that in many ways that explains my life. Here is an exercise for you to do: ask your friends how old they were when they had their first memory. If you are under one year in age, you’ve got a St. Augustine mind. See Book I of Confessions and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

  16. Laundress says:

    Beginnings are never…

    1. One word – Partnership

    2. One sentence – In St.Exupéry’s book, The Little Prince, the fox tells the boy that they are involved in a process whereby they are getting to know one another, that their outer layer is being stripped to reveal what is essential about each other and that they both accept, without question, their mutual inner core.

    3. One paragraph – Beginnings are never easy: they involve discovery, self-discovery and incremental graduations from one level of intimacy to the next. Eventually, the beginnings become part of everyday life and the sense of discovery, of wonder at the other’s originality or uniqueness become part of one’s routine and feelings of entitlement about the other. And yet, they don’t, as beginnings morph into endings and faced with the clarion call of the ultimate ending, nostalgia and appreciation set in for what was then, and what will be no more. Love remains. An eternal beginning.

    4. Stream of consciousness – When I was a little girl, I woke up in my grandparents’ house in the spare room, on a metal-framed bed which was hard and cold to the touch, even though I liked the medallion at the middle of the pattern on the headboard. But, close by, I realized, was the door leading up a dark staircase to the cobwebby attic with its ghoulish treasures. This was a secret place and the objects within it had been discarded and played dead, untouched by human hands for many years. The sunshine barely warmed them through the dusty circular window under the eaves. But other awakenings were better: at my aunt and uncle’s cottage on Lake Nipissing even though the mattresses were lumpy and the smell of the previous evening’s fire in the fireplace wafted into the damp bedroom like gaseous tendrils tickling my nose. The gum that I had carefully stuck to the bottom of the metal bed frame had grown hard during the night but quickly softened up when I popped it into my mouth. When I was married, the smell of coffee in the morning was a delight, even though the noise made by grinding the beans was harsh. It heralded a day filled with the humdrum business of life and looking after children, kissing my husband goodbye as he left for work before I did. As a child, when I woke up, I smelled my mother’s cup of instant coffee. She clutched it in one hand, and read a book in the other, hardly glancing up. And so, our days begin and we drift through them until they become the past and the present before settling into the future, that is, what is left of it. We reinvent ourselves every day, live through millennia of beginnings and face loss and despair, and dream of a heaven where we can continue to do the same, forever reaching into a pink infinity of clouds.
    5. Tweet – Put cap back on toothpaste; lower the seat – you’re outnumbered. Winter is nigh and I won’t take you for granted as we grow old together.

    6. Title – In Winter, We Are Content

    This poem seems to point to a description of a lengthy relationship which is encapsulated into six stanzas describing the mundane details of everyday life, such as the scent of fresh coffee and morning sounds involving the other person, the necessity of effecting compromises by squeezing the shared tube of toothpaste from the bottom although no mention is made of making sure the cap is back on…and the contentment found in sleeping together and touching. And this, despite the unending march of time which is our enemy as winter always comes. But, there are memories of loving moments, even in winter, even in beginnings, so I am paraphrasing “The Winter of our Discontent”…

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      Have you read Ania Szado’s wonderful new novel about St. Ex? It is marvelous. Again, let me know which poem number you were specifically responding to and I will get back to you.

      • Liette says:

        I’m sorry but I missed session number 2 with Dr. Cornett and don’t have the numbers he assigned to the poems. I’ve simply written the first three words of the poems he gave me to respond to at home. (Yes, I did homework!)

      • Bruce Meyer says:

        Let me know the first lines of the poem and I’ll respond from there.

  17. Belize says:

    ONE WORD

    Texture

    ONE SENTENCE

    I get a feeling of the joy associated with freedom to roam one’s mind and tap into areas that are inaccessible when we clutter it and get lost among the bushes and weeds.

    ONE PARAGRAPH

    Longing for something either past or no longer attainable… a place of peace, ease, grace and smoothness that somehow is now as tough as an elephant’s skin. These passages bring to mind the concept of place, time and space, the real, the unreal, life, death, experience, legacy… I suppose it represents for me the different phases of life.

    STREAMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS

    It’s like the author communicating to the reader or the listener that he was once able to touch or feel something that cannot be expressed fully explained or expressed as it was experienced. Using words is the best way that he can attempt to share this place or experience with us. It reminds me of times when I can almost see clearly how my life could be unfolding… right now and in the future… it’s a mere instant, a millisecond, a wisp of a moment when all seems to be in order and I’ve found safety, a haven, that no one can alter. Then, after a breath of relief and clarity, it’s gone and I’m left with what is behind me and anxiety blows the grey clouds over this wonderfully peaceful moment. I’m longing for it to come back, if only for a few seconds more.

    TWEET

    What about the old story that should have pointed U to a land so much like this?. When U think of this place far beyond words, what do U see?

    TITLE

    Wandering

  18. Daniele says:

    Reading #3

    ONE WORD

    Autumn

    ONE SENTENCE

    It seems this passage is tinged with regret, yet some sort of possibility still alive.

    ONE PARAGRAPH

    It makes me think that when things are not the way we want them to be, some of us wallow in dreams unfulfilled, resignation, sadness and others hang on and hope and wait for tomorrow, leaving the perplexions to the wind.

    STREAMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS

    It reminds me of a song by Don Henley, of the Eagles, entitled “My Thanksgiving” which goes like this:

    Here in this fragmented world, I still believe
    In learning how to give love, and how to receive it
    And I would not be among those who abuse this privilege
    Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge

    I wallowed in the springtime
    Now I’m welcoming the fall
    For every moment of joy
    Every hour of fear
    For every winding road that brought me here
    For every breath, for every day of living
    This is my thanksgiving

    Senses, hoping, dreaming, wishing crashing like a wave on the rocks in one moment, like when things just seem unreachable and the knowing that in the very next thought, like the constant movement of waves, one can reach out and be let oneself be moved in ways the “world out there” never can…

    TWEET

    I’m left wanting to know what’s going on in your mind?
    What was going on in Ur life?
    Is this still true for U today?

    TITLE

    Mirage

    Because when reading the passage over & over, I feel that there’s something just around the corner that is almost within reach, but not quite… like seeing in one’s mind’s eye, but not being able to grasp it. A little like what’s there for me when I read this piece….

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      I love the idea that the response to a poem is another poem. Bravo! This is what literature does. One work should generate another work because literature is a conversation.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      I’ll have to look up the Don Henley song. I’m not sure of the sense of failed wishes. There’s always that moment when the winter blankets come out because the nights are getting cold and the season of natural exuberance is over. I think what binds people together resides in the little things and little moments they share that aren’t necessarily fraught with any considerations other than just simple actions that both take pleasure in — the things they do together. So much of who and what we are is defined by those moments that do not contain anything other than the unrecognized joy of being together and just being alive in the world with each other. Those are the hardest things to write about because they do not contain regret, or death, or some of the more trying (and seductive themes). I love Seamus Heaney’s poem about his mother, “Mossbawn” and the final line about her baking and pouring her love into what she is doing: the words about the tinsmith’s scoop sunk past its gleam in the meal bin. It is hard to notice the little things that sustain our world, but they are profuse. I tell other writers that to seek such moments is the greatest challenge in poetry: the poem that neither suffers nor laughs but simply celebrates in a very quiet, understated way. those small actions and events that bind us together and on which we build the love sustains two people.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      On reading your response again, I just caught something wonderful in it that I hadn’t noticed before. You say “what was going on in Ur life?” I don’t know if you were aware of it or not, but Plato tells us about Heaven in Book XI (or X depending on which edition you trust) of The Republic in a story titled The Myth of Ur. Western Cosmology is largely based on this piece of writing. Plato’s story has the same plot as the movie Heaven Can Wait (with Warren Beatty…a dumb piece of film-making). What impresses me about your response is that you’ve caught something I’ve long believed: namely that heaven exists in those moments in our lives when we are unaware yet interacting with each other. We forget time and self-awareness because we are committed to the action of the moment. Joseph Campbell calls this “bliss” or “the Buddah moment.” I like that in your response because such moments are the moments we are truly in love.

  19. voltan says:

    Reading #4

    1 word
    Nature

    1 sentence
    I pine for the trees and gush about the still waters that habit the wilderness.

    1 paragraph
    This poem evokes the the wilderness of our dreams.
    To be anxious to get home given the beauty of this place reminds me that it’s not real. Home is.

    Stream of consciousness
    A place beyond words that is (paradoxically) being described in words – evoked through words – could it exist?
    Is there a reality beyond our ability to describe it? And does our describing it distort it? Or is what we describe its own thing – a new creation that is based on some assumed (beyond words) reality that, like the pristine wilderness, lives only in our imagination.

    Tweet
    Like the good old days, nature untouched by humans exists only in our imagination.

    Title
    Ephemeral Nature
    because it conjures up a nature that has us consider it an unattainable fantasy.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      I am glad you caught the sense of the stillness because only in stillness can one make the journey between the frenetic land of reality and the peaceful world of the spirit. I was working, very consciously, on that dichotomy when I wrote the book from which this poem, “Introit,” is taken. The book is titled “The Spirit Bride.” In our most contemplative moments (and I am afraid I’m sound a bit like Rilke here) we “marry” ourselves to the realm of the soul. That’s why you mentioned the still waters of the wilderness. Wildernesses seem not so much wild to us but seem “other” to us because they are places of stillness. I spoke last Sunday about experiencing the sound of a hummingbird’s wings in that kind of stillness. The problem with this world is that it hollers at us, takes us way constantly from the place where our heart speaks to us. In my poetry, especially in the volumes The Spirit Bride and Anywhere I was wrestling with that final line of Yeats’ poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” because he says that as he struggles to cope with the demands of the here and now he still hears the peacefulness of his island “in the deep heart’s core.” Many years ago, when I was still a teenager, my parents took me to Scotland. We ended up one beautiful summer day on the island of Iona, the island where Christianity hung on by the skin of its teeth during the worst of the Dark Ages. As I arrived on the island I saw the white stones at the bottom of the channel, the pure white sheep on the shore (shockingly white as if I had arrived in heaven), and felt this strange headiness from the evaporation of salt into the air of a surprisingly warm day. The tourists also evaporated. I found myself in a crag of stone known as Columba’s Cell because St. Columba had once had his private office there (it had once possessed walls and a roof). I sat there and pulled out my notebook (never leave home without it) and a pen and wrote the following poem that appeared in my first chapbook:

      In Columba’s Cell

      O Lord, give me peace to breathe the air,
      to find in that peace through all time
      the meaning of the wind upon my face.

      Grant me clear eyes to see as blind men see
      into the silent niches of mountains
      where sight turns to the heavens to search
      for a dove-born silence, a silence
      that blooms and sings of understanding

      Grant me this peace, O Lord,
      where no sea may swell upon my rock,
      where in all journeys I may discover
      a soul-redeeming journey’s end;

      and above all else, dear Lord,
      make me worthy of that discovery.

      At the time I felt as if I had been pulled through a knot-hole. I knew something had changed, but I wasn’t sure what. I think that was the moment I began what has amounted to a spiritual quest. When I finally published a full book of poems a decade later, I undertook a ritual practiced by many poets I’ve known to seek out a silversmith and have the artisan make a ring that bears a personal symbol. Some poets have chosen eagles. Others waves. At least one came by a Hopi frog. My silversmith was a man named Patrick Flood in Dublin, Out of silver mined in the hills of Sligo (a cache that has now been mined out completely) he fashioned a ring with a ship on it at my request. The sail is full. The waves rock it and test it beneath the hull. On the sides of the ring are the Celtic trinity interlace, almost as a kind of compass pointing me on my journey. I like to think that I am constantly sailing to that place that is beyond words. Northrop Frye, my mentor and university professor, used to speak of that Aquinian level of perception beyond words, the anagogic. A poem does not necessarily have to reach the anagogic, but a good poem should point one there. A good poem should leave the reader gasping for words or explanations.

  20. voltan says:

    Reading #3

    1 word
    Penumbra

    1 sentence
    Folding the map of our dreams muffles the sirens calling us into our future.

    1 paragraph
    Fear clutches at us form the dark. We must keep the lights on to avoid its icy touch – to avoid being frozen. So we walk around like zombies in the light; afraid to sleep lest we be …
    It seems that fear has touched us nonetheless.

    Stream of consciousness
    Nothingness.
    What are we to make of our lives now that we know that: we come form nothingness; go to nothingness; we live in noise, trying in vain to drown out the nothingness. We are nothingness, and it means nothing. Let’s invent our lives from nothingness.

    Tweet
    Open the folded map of your dreams to remind you that you are pretending that you did not choose this journey.

    Title
    Lucid dream
    because it interweaves dreams and reality in a way that makes it hard to distinguish between the two, and our volition in either state.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      I guess you could say that a favorite blanket is a map of dreams. If you hold a blanket up to the light when you are beneath it, especially a dark coloured blanket that has been around for many years, you see millions of tiny stars in the canopy, almost as if you are looking at the sky on a summer night. I wish I had included this idea in the poem now that I think about it. I love the idea of “let’s invent our lives from nothingness” because, as I mentioned during our meeting, I’ve always argued for the idea that an author’s work is an expression of the author writing themselves into existence. Writing, especially poetry, is a means whereby an individual sets things in perspective (if not in order). The universe can be a very absurd place, yet at the core of creative composition (even if creative composition purposefully works to repel it) is the idea that the reflection of life is what helps us contextualize and make sense of life. I think of the World War One poets who were treated for neurasthenia (shell shock) by the medical doctor/anthropologist W.H.R. Rivers. Rivers (when treating Sassoon, Prewett, Owen, Graves, among others) encouraged writing as a form of externalizing inner reality because “getting it out there” as the poets often termed it, was a means of being able to view themselves and their ideas (and their own inner turmoil) objectively.

      • Bruce Meyer says:

        In any case, I’ve always held that creativity is rooted in a personal quest for order.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      I am always fascinated by what people make of the poems. As a writer and as a critic, I know there are certain things there that are quite obvious because the language states them. That is why I am delighted when someone sees something new and unique that I haven’t noticed. I had a professor at the U of T, Jay Macpherson (GG winner for Poetry in 1957), who was famous for finding more in students’ essays than they thought they had put into it. There are close readers but there are also close writers but at times not even the writer sees what is going on. A great deal of writing is happenstance, or rather serendipity. I love the idea that you’ve thought of the possible title as “Lucid Dream.” I did call the blanket a “map of our dreams.” I’m not sure of the existential bent of “nothingness.” Folding a blanket is a fairly concrete activity; but you have caught something very important — the sense of the question of what time is and how it impacts on us. I happen to believe (as Jesus did and as many other optimists do) that the world is not going to end. I used to love the phrase “world without end” just before the Amen in my United Church upbringing. I find that comforting. I grew up during the Cold War (and have poems about that period) where the sense of uncertainty was overwhelming. When I was five, I walked home from kindergarten in the middle of the afternoon because the teachers had ordered everyone into the basement for a prolonged duck and cover exercise. One kid complained and started to cry. The kindergarteners were sandwiched among the Grade Ones, Twos, and Threes. The older kids had been released. A teacher turned on the crying kid and yelled “shut up! The world is going to blow up!” That set the whole lot of them off — teachers, kids, janitors. People were throwing up. It was bedlam. I was disgusted (that’s my usual response to nonsense of the chaotic kind: disgust). So, I walked out. I got home, rang the bell, and my Mom answered the door without opening the outer glass storm door. “Is the world going to blow up?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she said, “but c’mon in and we’ll watch it on tv.” So I agree with you whole heartedly: we do invent our lives. We use the fabric of the imagination, the experiential, but most of all the imaginable, and go from there. In The Golden Thread I said that writers were writing themselves into existence. You’ve picked up on that here. Bravo. Writing is not merely life but the means by which we discover we are alive.

      • Liette says:

        Your last sentence reminds me of a moment in my grade 11 Physics class. The teacher explained that Lord Rutherford’s experiments in subatomic physics led him to understand the composition of an atom. Of course, these particles cannot be seen by the naked eye but they do leave a trace and that’s how Rutherford was able to prove his theory. Our teacher compared this to walking in the snow. He told us to look behind us, that we would see our footprints in the snow. Our words are like footprints in the snow,. Even after we’re gone, we have left traces of our existence behind us.

  21. Phoebe says:

    Reading number 4 – Bruce Meyer
    1. One word – Anthropology
    2. One sentence – This poem reminds me of Indiana Jones and adventures in far-flung lands narrated by bass-baritones wearing Tilly hats who are handy with tools and drink two-malt Scotch.
    3. One paragraph – There is death and disappointment in this poem, despite the images of birds flying north or south in formation, guided by instinct and a strong urge for survival. There is also an element of ambivalence as the narrator wants to go back from whence he came. His image of stone carvers brings to mind Mayan ruins, heaped together in disarray, surrounded by humid jungle and creeping vines. Decrepitude amidst the wonder of lost civilisations. Wanderlust is a curious thing: it prompts us to seek other climes and countries and yet, we act like boomerangs, forever yearning to head back home and suckle at home and hearth.
    4. Stream of consciousness – I once read Joseph Conrad’s book, Heart of Darkness, and don’t remember much of the plot line which I suppose means that I understood the underlying message of the book. I confound it with images that I saw in films: green, waxy tropical plants and trees growing into a canopy which blocks out the sunlight and shelters venomous snakes who are camouflaged as they wait for potential prey. I think I saw a cormorant in Florida; or maybe several, perched on the lampposts lining the causeway from Tampa Airport to the coast. And an elephant, at the Granby Zoo before they renovated the place to make it more hospitable to the captive animals. It was chained and visitors could feed it peanuts. I wondered at the time why it didn’t grab arms and twist them out of their sockets. A caged bear paced up and down in its small space, wearing a path in the concrete and snuffling with frustration and boredom. There were stingrays in the sand at the beach. Swimmers were advised to shuffle as they walked in the shallows so the animals could sense the vibrations and dart out of harm’s way. Actually, scaring them away was better than being stung. My cousin’s husband built a pontoon plane in his garage. It’s a two-seater and he keeps it moored behind their house, built on a river which is a tributary of the Ottawa River. He has built another two-seater plane and flown it to Alabama where my cousin’s son is living, having married a woman he met on the Internet. They were playing computer games and were both in their late 20’s. The mind boggles. Last night, strong winds blew on Montreal and there was a power outage. We are so vulnerable in the face of natural phenomena. Growing old is arriving at a more complete understanding of our vulnerability. It also means wanting to go back home. But, where is home? Where the wind blows?
    5. Tweet – Transubstantiation : water into elephant skin; trees into brushcuts; life into death; stone into ruins; geese as signs; wind into stasis.
    6. Title – Wanderlust. I’ve loved this word ever since I’ve heard it for the first time and the narrator is imagining a far-off place “far beyond words”. He lusts for it in all its ruggedness and yet, doesn’t quite reach it, or, once he’s arrived, longs to get back home, like the fickle wind.

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      Every time we look at a place we see it differently, as if almost for the first time. This is a poem I wrote on Manitoulin Island. It is a poem about how things begin, and the actual title of the poem is “Introit.” In a mass or a church service, the introit is the beginning or the opening procession that will lead to revelation. Nature is a place of repeated cycles of life and death. I was driving for that sense in the poem — that nature is constantly changing and almost spinning between life and death but also always caught in a sense of beginning something. That’s why I said “I have in mind a place far beyond words.” You can’t really put a name to either life and death: they are both states of being but both are states in which change is constantly occurring. The poem is also a free verse sonnet, and sonnets by their nature are constantly seeking to confront and solve a problem. What I love about your response is that you have caught the idea of comings and goings with your own reflections and story about pontoon planes. In the north, not necessarily the far north, pontoon planes are the birds that like the Annishnabe raven carry a person between realities and states of being. I don’t know whether I should tell you this or not, but I had a spiritual experience atop Dreamer’s Rock several summers ago during which I felt as if I had journeyed through a portal between two worlds. When my soul (though probably not my body) returned to this reality I was confronted by my animal spirit guide. And what did I see? A raven. A poet is a raven because he travels between two worlds. The strange thing about ravens is that their feathers are luminescent in the same way that sun and light reflect off the metal body of an aircraft. I think that is why you picked up on the idea of transubstantiation. I was speaking of that portal place where one can journey to and from alternate realities and universes. That’s what a poem should do. It should take you to another place. A poem is a raven.

      • Liette says:

        I do not doubt that you had a spiritual experience and if you wonder whether or not you should mention it, it’s because we live in a world where discernible, traceable, empirical patterns are preferred to the betweenness of your raven guide. I think I’ve had some of these moments but called them “epiphanies”, when I felt like a silent cosmic boom traversed my vision and I was everywhere at the same time. (And no mind altering substance had been ingested!) I like your description of the ravens’ luminescent feathers as being akin to a plane.

  22. Phoebe says:

    Reading number 3 – Bruce Meyer
    1. One word – Blanket
    2. One sentence – There is a topography in the bedroom governing the interplay between two people who see that room as sanctuary.
    3. One paragraph – This is a poem about the fabric and paper of a relationship. The bed and the bedroom are perceived as the start and end zone of the days’ activities. The poet uses the blanket as a symbol of security and familiarity, providing the spark, both literally and figuratively between the two who face a world of work and responsibilities. Time seems to be their enemy. There is desire and routine. They would rather be in the bedroom, their sanctuary, then in the stressful outside world.
    4. Stream of consciousness – Reading this poem reminds me of married life which I have left behind now for the past 11 years and of a particular bed which was actually a mattress on the floor because we had bought a semi-detached house built in 1918 or so and the queen-sized boxspring couldn’t fit around the corner at the top of the stairs so we scrunched up the mattress and lay it on the floor in our bedroom. An ancient lilac bush had grown up to the second storey window on the street side and it was particularly alluring in the spring when the perfume wafted into the room. There were two other windows, also with aluminum storm windows which let in the cold air in winter, as in the poem. We didn’t have to wait for work and routine to intrude as our younger daughter would wake up around 2 or 3 a.m. and pad into our room, ready to play. So much for the intimacy of married life and the romanticism of coupledom. I learned later on that children with learning problems often have interrupted sleep patterns. I wanted to lock her up in her room so I could sleep; her father slept through it all. The pediatrician advised me against it and suggested that I put a sleeping bag and pillow on the floor beside me so she could lie down on it and not wake me up. She only started to sleep through the night at age 6. Acrylic blankets give off blue sparks at night because of static electricity. If I think back far enough, I might recollect eager undressing and the youthful feeling of sanctuary and specialness. I’m tired today: this poem might affect me differently if I was in a tropical setting and rested.
    5. Tweet – We spend 1/3 of r life sleeping. R bed and blankets cherished, sometimes shared with a partner. Creating a haven against the outside world.
    6. Title – Shielded from the World

    • Bruce Meyer says:

      Blankets are objects that bind us together, a kind of shared wrapping. They keep us warm. They are often the most cherished objects (as are quilts) because they are the covers for the most intimate moments in a relationship; yet when they are passed on, they take on their own new significance because what they cover are secrets that are never shared outside the blanket itself. They are flags of the personal and when they are folded they are usually folded in the same way one preserves a flag and its meaning and its memories.They are passed down from generation to generation. My wife and I have slept beneath one that was my grandparent’s — a Whitney point heavy green blanket. When it comes time to fold the blanket (which I can never do on my own because I’m just purely inept at such things), I call on my wife. The folding of the blanket is a kind of a dance, moving us back and then together and back and then together again. I love the description of the lilac bush. There is a dell of lilacs across the street from my home, and that dell, in a few days, will break into a song for the eyes and the nose and for touch. You’ve inspired me to go and look at it in a different way now. Thank you.

      • Liette says:

        It was a real pleasure to meet you, Prof. Meyer, and to explore your poetry. I have read some of your responses and agree with you that we search for the détails of everyday life in poetry and novels, searching for a reaffirmation of our own existence. I own two old quilts which are not part of my family’s treasure, but which I keep rolled up in a trunk. When I take them out to let them breathe, I marvel at the fingers that stitched them together and try to guess what kind of life the seamstresses enjoyed. In that same trunk, I have a Japanese kimono which was bought at a garage sale. It is made of white and orange silk and has embroidery: flowers, turtles and cranes in gold metallic thread. I was told that it was bought in Japan in 1939 by a honeymooning couple from my suburban town of Saint-Lambert who shortened their stay when war was declared with Germany. I mention this as you are a man whose enjoyment of life involves family and who has retained much curiosity, discovering places and gestures that make us whole, while appreciating what is unseen.

      • Bruce Meyer says:

        Thank you Liette. I love this story.

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