I loved the Inn At Weston where I grew up. This small country inn was the center of our small Vermont town. There was a pool, no land, just a colonial white clapboard building. As Weston’s history began in the late 1700s I believe that this building was quite old. Today it is gone. Another place has been named The Inn At Weston. I learned that it had burned to the ground sometime in the 70s or 80s. For me it was devastating. It felt as if a part of my life had been destroyed, eliminated. I had worked there from the time that I was 13 until I was nearly 19 during the summer months. One summer when I was 16 and it was about 10 AM, I ran up to Jack’s bedroom that doubled as the office very excited about my flight with Bruce. I burst into the bedroom so excited, for I had just flown a plane in between the Green Mountains and over the Inn. Jack and Hugh were in bed together. I knew Jack was gay, although I am not sure that this was a term of parlance in 1962. I was not embarrassed – I just shared my story and excitement then I left. We were family. Jack was like a dad to me. I truly loved him. Because of that love my reaction was simply one of happiness for him.
fireworks danger and excitement – festival time
Shared with gratitude with the wonderful poets at dVerse OpenLinkNight
I have been floundering, excited about writing my memoirs but not happy about loosing contact with my poet friends, really, really not happy! So, what should I do? Should I write all of the time? Should I write memoir one day and poetry the next? No, for I haven’t the time. Then I came upon a solution that evolved from a thought that I had last year. Most of you know that I absolutely love Japanese forms of poetry. I was ill for more than 1/2 of last year (yes, it appears to be perennial) during which time I studied Japanese poetry, especially haiku, haiga, haibun, tanka. I committed myself to writing one haiku per day during my illness. This act was a spiritual discipline. That is part one. Secondly, the photos from my mother’s WWII scrap books are the real inspiration for this memoir. I wish to honor her work in London during the bombings. She was an awful mother and I did not like her. I came late in life to understand that her poor mothering was in great part a function of the war. For this reason I can tell you that war reaches down through the ages and effects those of new generations. I have finally concluded that this story can only be told through the lens of my own life. I say why not write it using Japanese forms of poetry? How does that sound? I think that it solves all of my problems! It sounds absolutely perfect. It is poetry to my ears. I do not think that it has been done before. The only thing that even comes close is “Walden Pond” re-done in haiku. Tell me what you think. Am I going out on a limb? And oh, one is supposed to start out with a bang, a whopper of a first sentence, or in my case a whopper of a haibun. You are meant to draw one in to your story. For those who may not know, a haibun is prose followed by a haiku. Traditionally this prose speaks of a place, a person or a scene and today memoir. A haiga is art with a haibun or haiku. the art of which I speak is photography.
I was nine years old. I walked into the employee’s cloakroom of my mother’s place of employment. I was a very little kid. I rifled through all of the coat pockets. In one pocket I found $1000. Wow! I stole it. This was 1955. I knew that I had done something really bad because of the feelings of dread in my tummy. But it was a great feeling to have some money. I went to the general store and I bought some candy. I understood the power of money at that young age. I understood it because I had none and my parents had a good bit which they did not share. It was as if we three kids were poverty stricken. Today I remember little else of this episode. I was confronted and caught by my parents. I am not sure how, but I suspect showing up at the general store with a $100 bill in a town of 500 was a dead giveaway. I cannot remember my punishment. My father remedied this situation by giving me a room in the Big Barn. We had the Big Barn and the Little Barn. The horses, the tack room, our riding ribbons, trophies and a large collection of carriages and sleighs were kept in the Big Barn. In my new room in the Big Barn filled with hay and pigeon droppings he put a small roll-top desk for my use. Perhaps this act was in recognition that everyone needed a room of one’s own. I remember nothing else about it. Years later in the 90s I spoke to my mother about it. She was mortified by these memories. Shame wove a deep, ugly and tight thread through my family. Shame is something that follows one for a lifetime unless one both changes and forgives oneself.
smoldering June heat
night cicadas loud above
gentle breeze leaves move
It takes a long time to perfect a haiku. This one was written last night and needs much reworking.
Shared with fellow poets at both: Poets United – The Poetry Pantry and dVerse’s Poetry Jam where Kelvin of Kelvin’s Poetry Blog has challenged us to use two idioms to inspire our poetry today. I have used my title and “going out on a limb”. Thank you Kelvin.
Initially I closed my comments a couple of months ago to have the time to write new poetry and have time to read the poetry of others. However, the best laid plans of men etc, etc. I have written nothing. I can say that I have had the pleasure of reading the poetry of others leaving a comment or not. This period of time was nonetheless very productive. I finally nudged myself with the assistance of several autobiographies and biographies to that place where a decision had to be made, write or not to write? For a long time I have wanted to write about my mother’s WWII scrapbooks. They tell a story – but what story? Sometime after reaching that conclusion I knew that I had to incorporate my own story into my writing. There has been no movement except for a niggling little voice saying, “who do you think that you are, who would wish to read about you?” I know, I know, childhood stuff of which I should let go. Then I started reading an autobiography of Ivana Lowell (Lowell as in the poet Robert). My library is filled with biographies and poetry. There is not much fiction. Ivan Lowell is a member of the famous Guinness family as in “dark stout,” something that my grandmother used to give me with a steak when I came into New York for a weekend from prep school at fourteen. I clicked with Ivana! I felt a real identification. I have also been reading about the Bouvier sisters and was fascinated to find that our childhoods had similarities that made me identify with them too. Please understand that for me to be able to identify with anyone at all is a real coup. This identification process comes at the age of 66 years. Not feeling good about oneself is always the result of numerous accidents of fate and planned developments in ones history. I think that the most difficult thing in my life has been the fact that I have never identified with a soul. When I say identify, I am speaking of that feeling of having something in common with another so that you get to say hmm, there are other people in this world like me. It is the process of being able to look at another’s life and feel “wow, she is just like me.”
Reading the autobiography of Ivana Lowell has given me the permission that I have needed to begin the story of my own life. I have lead a strange life not however as unique as the lives of my sister or my brother. I was the normal one in the family, something each of my siblings shied away from. Does this mean that when writing I will have to “change the names and places” of everything and everyone about whom I write? Being a very literal person to whom authenticity is exceptionally important, the idea of changing names and places does not appeal to me at all. The other aspect of that is that I plan on using a lot of photos including those of my sister and brother. Can you see I am already worried about a lawsuit from them? And yes, they have attempted to sue me in the past. The result of that legal debacle was that they lost money they didn’t have and I lost money that I did have. Just one more thing, I stated that I am the normal one in the family, in the entire family including my parents. I knew that when I left home at eighteen I was escaping. I had no skills. I had no training and I had just been kicked out of college. I headed for Greenwich Village. I believed that I was escaping a long history of mental illness. And so I did. But you can’t really escape mental illness can you? No you cannot. I spent the next twenty years in physical pain. There was nothing organically wrong with me, I simply placed the family mental illness into my physical body.
So, my comments are open again and I shall begin to write. I don’t yet know where to begin but I shall figure that out.