Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Feral Dreamer, or No Going Back

In April, I had one of those dreams without a single image, just a voice over: “You can either Be Here, or Be Here More Deeply...”

which reminded me of a dream I had during the post-grad days in Iowa City at the height of existential despair (working at the testing agency by day, teaching Interpretations of Literature by night, taking shifts at the Crystal Gem store on weekends, falling short of earning enough to cover student loans and living expenses--in the gap between failed relationships, wondering how to recoup sanity, find husband, children, etc). In which I asked, “WHY?” (as in what was the point of being here). I became aware of standing in a room with two other seekers, a massive cone-shaped sculpture of thin metal triangles and circles floating in front of us that we were composing and levitating playfully. The voice answered back, “Because You Were Bored.....”

As in remember?! You chose this life and its challenges, now stop the middle-class whining and get on with your life!

So I’m outing the the optomistic leg of this blog: Feral Dreamer—the “hidden balancer.” (Feral Mom—the “situation”. Feral Writer—the “opposing passion.”) I need all three to care enough to be here. Specifically on the subject of motherhood—I came across this enlightening passage this week:

The language in which we think about the relationship between motherhood and art making is inadequate. Unfortunately we enter into motherhood feeling like it is an oppositional struggle rather than focusing on the effort living fully takes. This is what C. D. Wright reminds us (Claudia Rankine, in an interview in jubilat (issue twelve, 2006) speaking about C.D. Wright’s book, Cooling Time, in which Wright discusses poetry and pregnancy: You get what you get—or, you lose some and you gain some, but there is no going back (Rankine again on Wright).

And another provoking bit of reflection came via Poetry (September 2009) “As If Nature Talked Back to Me: A Notebook” by Ange Mlinko: “I don’t want to read anthologies of mother poems. On the other hand I am always interested in what individual poets write about their children, in context with all the other things they write about” (p. 461). You have to read Mlinko’s rich essay in its entirety—and I admit I do see what she’s getting at regarding the limiting aspect of marketing oneself and one’s work to the “mothering genre” (less wholesome than having the entirety of one’s poetic work taken seriously, motherhood one aspect of many). But the line of Mlinko’s I underlined and will keep for now: “Women with young children still have a lifetime ahead of them.”

Taking to heart C.D. Wright’s observation regarding the depth of the “effort living fully takes,” I love seeing motherhood and writing as pushing one another to richer potential rather than seeing them as opposing trajectories.

Occasionally I wonder which plane of existence I occupied in that dream when I decided I was bored (asking the “why,” I suppose, out of the addictive context of dreams of flying, knitting bones, skimming other planets, breathing underwater and visiting the mythic mirror for whichever incarnation would show itself next)—but not for too long. While raising children, such disassociative adventures have lost their charm—I must be here on this planet (and more deeply here) since this is the one I continue to wake on morning after morning, the sweaty back of my three-year old against mine, the feral cats stacked on the deck trellises two stories high waiting to be fed.

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