Womb, Harlequin and License Plates: The Gift 1
Dogs can bark, he said. Demanded civil behavior! she laughed back. My spouse and littlest child were playing the acronym license plate game.
DCB, found on the back of a volkswagen. Remolded into delightful phrases. Brought home in a little story-box. A gift to the family.
Switch gears. Families and strangers grieving Flight 447. A briefcase with an airline ticket, orange life vest, elusive black boxes, debris floating on the turbulent sea. What to take from this, what to give in the face of so much loss? I reach into my sorrow and empathy, gather slight visions of what has so far been recovered, and consider...
What indestructible secrets does
the black box hold. Besides electrical
failure, did it record his intention
to return her key for good on Monday,
does it hold her regret for being too
easy that night they cut the deal
on the purchase of rubber for ten
factories in the South. Will it tell
how the child lay dreaming of
chocolate gateaux with cherries
and how his mother had just
dabbed whipped cream on his
freckled nose to make him laugh.
Or can it say how— while the
boy was still unwrapping presents,
'midst screams he thought were party
sounds—the woman took him in her
arms one last time, as if for the first
time, and pressed his face against
milk-white silk and breaking breast.
This week at High Calling Blogs we're discussing chapter one of Hyde's The Gift. Like Sam, who wrote the HCB post for us, I find myself riddled with questions. What is a gift? On what does it rely? Assignation or acceptance?
In other words, if I say my poem is a gift to the grieving, is it? What if the sentiments are too hard to accept? What if the recipients don't particularly like poetry? Or if the license-plate story comes home, not meant as a gift per se, but I accept it as such, is it a gift?
Are some gifts greater than others? What if I were a better poet, or a worse one? Does that alter the reality or power of my gift? Hyde notes, for instance, that the formulaic Harlequin Romance series is not a work of art (the parameters have been set by poll results and this is the bottom line: 192 pages in length, gold curlicue design, heroine between ages of 19 and 27, single man but preferably recently widowed, and so on); and because the series is not, in his opinion, a work of art, it lacks the power of true gift.
True gift, says Hyde, makes us 'grateful that the artist lived, grateful that he labored in the service of his gifts.' Such work 'when it comes, speaks commandingly to the soul and irresistibly moves us.' Furthermore, a gift should shift us from emptiness to plenty as it 'seeks the barren, the arid, the stuck, the poor. The Lord says, All that opens the womb is mine...'
Is this, at last, a definition of gift? If I open some womb in myself to give, maybe it is a gift whether or not it's accepted. If I accept a gift not intended as a gift and let it birth something in me, this too might be gift to my soul.
'Opening in Alhambra Wall' photo, by L.L. Barkat.
BOOK CLUB POSTS:
Laura's Some Food We Could Not Eat
Sam's The Gift: Art, Work and a Ribbon
POETRY FRIDAY & PROMPT:
Our next prompt (please post by June 18) is to begin, middle, or end a poem with "I spied God in (choose a specific object... a chrysalis, your mailbox, the dishwasher, an old teapot; what did God look like, what was God doing, did it surprise you?)
High Calling Blogs' Poetry as Spiritual Practice: 2
Milton's Seasons and Nicodemus
Ann’s Soul ADD and Burning Bush
Simple Country Girl's Book RAP
Marcus's Liturgy of Seasons
TUC's Fell Down Today
Sarah's Way With Words