Writer's Tree

As a writer with each endeavor I grow and my branches spread to encompass the world.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Work of Revision

I have discovered a new excitement and delight in the challenge of revision. I spent lots of time in my recent poetry class learning the skills of revision as it relates to my poetry and have been unable, of course, to keep myself from comparing it to the process of growth in my life. From small subtle changes that make a line a little more interesting, to the changes that completely transform it into a new and exciting piece entirely.

We sometimes look at change as scary, what if I loose who am I or change in a way that won't be so attractive to those that are comfortable with me as I am? It is possible to make change less painful. Try things in small doses, share your ideas for change with others and get feedback. Say it out loud and listen to how it sounds to you. Somethings will fit and the result will be more beautiful, others will not and we will go back to our original with a stronger believe that it is the right fit. But each time that we make a change, no matter how small, it feels very fulfilling to look at the whole anew and see that it is more beautiful than when we began.

I have included here a poem that I posted earlier and have since spent many hours revising and revising yet again. It was painful, I needed it to say just the right thing with just the right result. I believe that the end product is much better than the beginning even though it is not that different. Just like my life when I dare to make changes, I will know that I have changed and those around me will still recognize me, but will have a sense that I am somehow a little different, perhaps it will be subtle enough that they can't quite put their finger on it but they will sense that I am a little stronger, a little braver, a little more complete and, therefore, a more beautiful version of myself than I was the last time they encountered me.

Please read this and then page down and read the first version and see if you don't agree with the beauty of revision!

You Need To Tell

You stand there, small in your large frame,
your weakness giving you sympathy

He is gone, my brother, your son,
and though you stand there,
you are gone as well.

He is gone, I remind you for the third,
no fourth time, and in a moment
you have forgotten.

She is gone, my mother, your wife.
Died long ago, taking your guilt.
You stand unaccepting of your part,
unaccused of your freedom to
silently sanction my destruction.

You need to tell me how
she possessed such power.
You need to tell me why
you just stood by and watched.
Just stood by,
so tall,
so strong,
so weak.
Watched a woman with razor tongue
and clenched fists, wound
both body and spirit.

Now I stand looking at you,
loving you, hating you,
knowing, that you too are gone.

You need to tell me how
……to love
………after you are gone.

Conni Struss Johnson

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Changing of the Guard

It is a really interesting experience when you become older as a parent. Your need to direct and guide the lives of your children diminishes and their belief that you need to be directed and guided increases. Some of this I believe comes from the fact that you are all now adults and if you have a strong and mature relationship with your children you will begin to relate as adults rather than child and parent.

Slowly you notice their concern and they begin to refer to your age and if you are not careful you will become the child and they the parent. One area that this has been very noticeable is the area of dating. It was very entertaining to have dates and see the reactions of my sons as I left the house with men. This is just a little writing that was inspired by the changing of the guard so to speak.

Changing of the Guard

I am greeted by your face, sullen and grave.
Your eyes of suspect keeping diligent watch
During practiced rituals, preparations of the night.
Your toes tapping with the slow tick of time
as I am interrogated about my anticipated return,
admonished, to keep a tight rein on my desire.

In times past, it was I who feared that your desire
would indeed bring me to an early grave.
I, the gatekeeper anxiously awaiting your return.
The matriarch, keeping the ever faithful watch,
my toes tapping with the slow tick of time
till my young charge returned from the night.

Other times, it was I who cried, all through the night.
To see the sparkle missing from your eyes was my only desire.
My heart loudly beating with the slow tick of time
in an atmosphere heavy, sullen, and grave.
I who would sing to you, who would pray, and watch,
waiting for the rosy bloom in your cheeks to return.

And it was I, who prayed diligently for my shape to return
after having struggled through the pain, through the night.
Your father, an onlooker, responsible only to wait and watch
as I birthed the fruit of our shared passion and desire.
I grunted and pushed, proclaiming him deserving of an early grave,
until that moment when I saw your face for the very first time.

It was your father, who courted me once upon a time,
promising to love me with a love I vowed to return.
A love we believed strong enough to carry us to the grave.
Love we cherished, and celebrated long into the sweet nights.
Sweet nights of passion, intensity and delicious desire
yet, somehow love escaped us on some late night’s watch.

So for a time, I did not partake but only waited, kept watch
my toes barely tapping with the slow tick of time.
The slow tick of years spent hoping for dormant desire
to seek me, to find me, to awaken and return
that I might again dance the dance of delicious night.
A night with passion found and revived from its grave.

Now keep guard, if you must, watch and wait my return
your toes tapping out time as I search for my knight.
For I’ll not again rein desire, till I rest in my grave.

Conni Struss Johnson©

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