February 14, 2018

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On this day when many people are basking in the bliss of romantic love or lamenting that they are not, I would like to offer another perspective for those of us who are not partnered. Many times I have felt very sorry for myself that I don’t seem to get to have what other people seem to have and so many songs and stories say is the ultimate experience that everyone wants, the companionship of mutual romantic love. There are myriad reasons why some of us don’t find this, or perhaps don’t have it currently, and while having it can certainly be lovely, finding romantic love does not necessarily make or break a fulfilling, vibrant life. Many people hold on to relationships that have expired or perhaps were never even all that good to begin with in order to avoid the seemingly horrific potential of life without a romantic partner. Sometimes we put ourselves into situations that are not viable and at times even dangerous because we are more afraid that we need to be held in order to be okay. And many, myself included at times, miss seeing the beauty that’s right in front of us in pining for something that we imagine would make us complete and can’t seem to find. I have been without romantic relationship for many years now, with only very few unsuccessful attempts along the way. In each case we would have likely benefited each other much more to have related as friends instead. While I still get caught up in the desire for that at times, and am not closed to the possibility that at some point I may find mutual romantic love, I have also found great peace in letting go of needing to have it, in being complete in myself.

Some of the benefits for me have been: I am very comfortable going almost anywhere alone and enjoy my own company, whether or not I engage with other people on my journeys. I have come to often prefer it, especially the ability to come and go as I please without having to compromise with someone else’s desires (other than my son, but that is another situation, and also part of why I deeply appreciate my times of pure freedom). I am pretty capable of doing most things on my own, and when I’m not, I am becoming adept at finding ways to support myself to get those things done too. I am not resentful and waiting for someone else to do their part to balance the tally, I just get it done or not. I relate well with men and women and value them as beings worthy in themselves, not so dominated by the tension of being potential sexual partners or not. I am becoming more comfortable walking away when this is not respected, and am able to take it less personally through time and practice. This helps me feel safer and more comfortable in my own skin, and in my own integrity, and sometimes wakes people up to how they are limiting the ways we may be able to relate by fixating on sexuality and romantic love. I experience the transmutation of sexual energy into vitality and creative inspiration, and sexual attraction into appreciation and connection beyond just that initial potential interest. I am often able to desire without having to obtain the object of desire and enjoy the beautiful experience of the desire in itself. Which…is freedom. My identity is not confined to being a partner and I am able to relate with whoever I want, however I want, as long as it is agreeable with the person I am relating with, and perhaps their partners  I continuously discover what I think and enjoy without the influence of others defining what is possible or valid. I have come to trust myself and am my own validation.

I’m not saying these things can’t be found in the context of a romantic relationship, monogamous or otherwise, I’m just sharing that life can be beautiful and satisfying even if you don’t find romantic love. Even if that’s not what we’re conditioned to believe, and even on a day like today. If you’re feeling alone, just know you’re not alone in being alone. And that being solo doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely. There are many ways to have companionship, including the companionship of your own heart.

On this and everyday.
Love

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the intimacy of presence

This one I love.
“When you are under this influence, you cannot get caught up in the misery of the world”
~ *Simonne
Poetry, and love, won’t allow escape from the intimacy of presence…

Sur la route de San Romano
by Andre Breton
translated by Simonne Guillerm Allen

Poetry is made like love in a bed
Its undone sheets are the beginning of things
Poetry is done in the woods

It has the space it needs
Not this one but the one that depends

On the eyes of the hawk
The dew on the snake-grass
The fogged souvenir of a bottle of Gewürztraminer on a silver tray
A high stem of tourmaline over the sea
And the road of mental adventure
Which rises up abruptly
One pause and she is mixed up right away.

It is not screamed on the rooftop
It is unproper to leave the door open
Or call witnesses

The school of fish the hedge of chickadees
The rail and the entrance of a great station
The reflection from two banks
The furrows in the bread
The bubble of the brook
The days of the calendar
The St. John’s Wort

The act of love and the act of poetry
Are not compatible
With the reading of the newspaper loudly.

The direction of the ray of the sun
The blue light of the return of the blow of the axe of the woodcutter
The thread of the kite shaped like a heart or a fish keep-net
The beating in rhyme of the tail of the beaver
The diligence of the lightning
The throw of the sugar coated pill from the top of the steps
The avalanche

The chamber of prestigious things
No sir, it is not the eighth chamber
Nor the vapor of the bedroom on a Sunday evening

The dancing figures executed transparently above the palms
The delineation of the outline of the body of a woman from the throw of daggers against the wall
The light undulation of the smoke
The curls of your hair
The curve of the sponge from the Philippines
The snares of the coral snake
The entrance of ivy in the ruins
She has all of time in front of her.

The poetic embrace like the fleshy one
As long as it lasts
Forbids all escape on the misery of the world.

*For more about Simonne see:
https://deniseporterkemp.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/translation/
https://deniseporterkemp.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/imprint/

Imprint

Simonne* translated this poem today. I breathe these poems in and they reveal themselves to me like the resonance of a dream I am sharing with the poet. They encapsulate a moment in time or an emotion like a memory held in a raindrop that seeps inside me as Simonne reads me her translation and I transcribe the words into into the computer. We are painting in mental imagery together, the poets, Simonne and I. Once it is in the computer, we read at least one other translation to inspire us, line by line comparing it to her own, sometimes adapting her version minimally to make sure her very direct translation expresses in English grammar what we feel the poet was articulating in French, sometimes adopting a more precise word if we happen upon one. We then read this almost final version together, she reading a line in French and then I in English, back and forth, to make sure we like the final image it presents. 

This is a very sad and beautiful poem by Jacques Prevert, a French poet and playwright of the twentieth century. He was one of the original members of the surrealist movement, who eventually rejected both the movement and its founder Andre Breton. Perhaps more on this as I research further, I am fascinated by the sudden intimacy I feel with these deep, sensitive and passionate writers. 

This particular poem published in 1945 reflects, to me, the imprint of a sense memory of an amorous moment, of an experience of beauty that touches us deeply and allows a sense of connection that stays with us even if the encounter is brief, even if the encounter is only witnessed rather than directly shared. And perhaps if and when remembered is a tether to that beauty, to that connection, that can transcend erasure, even from the shadow of war, from the pouring rain that rots and washes everything away until nothing remains, nothing but maybe the resonance of memory.  

Barbara
de Jacques Prevert
translated by Simonne Guillerm Allen

Remember Barbara
It was raining on Brest that day, constantly,
And you went walking, smiling
Radiant, delighted, dripping under the rain
Remember Barbara
It was raining continuously on Brest
And I crossed you on Siam Street
You were smiling
And as for me, I was smiling also
Did you remember Barbara
You whom I did not know
You who did not know me
Do you remember
Do you remember at least that day
Don’t forget
A man was sheltered under a porch
He shouted your name
Barbara
And you ran towards him under the rain
Dripping, delighted, radiant
And you threw yourself in his arms
Do you remember that, Barbara?
And no hard feelings if I use the familiar “tu” with you
I say “tu” to all that I love
Even if I’ve seen them only once
I say “tu” to all that love each other
Even if I do not know them
Remember Barbara
Don’t forget
This rain wise and happy
On your happy face,
On this happy town
This rain on the sea
On the arsenal
On the boat from Ouessant
Oh, Barbara
What stupidity the war is
What has become of you?
Under this rain of iron,
Of fire, of bloody steel
And the one who holds you tight in his arms
Amorously
Is he dead, vanished, or still alive?
Oh, Barbara
It is raining constantly
Like it was raining before
But it is not quite the same and
Everything is damaged
It’s the rain of terrible and desolate mourning
Its no longer a storm
Of iron blood
But quite simply clouds,
Which die like dogs
Dogs which disappear
In the course of the water towards Brest
And go to rot far off
Far off, very far off from Brest
Of which nothing remains.

Prevert often collaborated with musician Joseph Kosma to turn his poetry into music, this version is performed by one of Simonne’s favorites, Yves Montand.

*For more on SImonne and the work we are doing together reference ~
https://deniseporterkemp.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/translation/

Balance

yoga virgin gorda

The moment when we stop trying and it just happens…
प्रयत्नशैथिल्यानन्तसमापत्तिभ्याम्
yoga sutra 2.47: prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam
When the pairs of opposites come into balance, active effort ceases and presence spontaneously arises…the effort is in training ourselves to find the balance, and once it starts to support itself, getting out of the way…

Love

mother ocean

seaweed swirls
through the tendrils of
my long mermaid dreadlocks
that kiss
the back of my calves
as i swan dive
heart open
back arched
arms outstretched
into the depths
below
the turmoil at the surface
rumbling across
the sensitive skin of my soles
as the wave passes
my face
popping out
of the salty brine
buoyant
smiling
at the sparkling bright sun
and you