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Today’s guest poet: W.B. Yeats

A Crazed Girl

That crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,

Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.

No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, ‘O sea-starved, hungry sea.”

01080034

The Coming of Age

Creeping like those cats with
three-inch long legs,
It steals upon you
in a whisper.
One day
You are
As always.
The next,
Your reflection
Reflects that
Your time is
shortening
— and not the good kind of shortening —

You look into your own eyes,
observe the lines
that life has drawn,
and think,

“Well,

all right then.”

If you’re not familiar with this feature of the blog, each week I introduce you to a poem that I think is lovely, moving, or otherwise striking. I hope, if you like what you read here, that you’ll seek out other poems from the authors that you meet here. When I can, I will find artwork that is the ice cream on the poetry cake, so I can introduce you to new artists as well.

And as  a complement to The Weekly Wednesday Poem, I’ll be publishing an Original Thursday Poem each week, which will be one of my own poems from sometime in the past or present.

Today’s guest poet: Rainer Maria Rilke

Woman In Love
That is my window. Just now
I have so softly wakened.
I thought that I would float.
How far does my life reach,
and where does the night begin

I could think that everything
was still me all around;
transparent like a crystal’s
depths, darkened, mute.

I could keep even the stars
within me; so immense
my heart seems to me; so willingly
it let him go again,

whom I began perhaps to love, perhaps to hold.
Like something strange, undreamt-of,
my fate now gazes at me.

For what, then, am I stretched out
beneath this endlessness,
exuding fragrance like a meadow,
swayed this way and that,

calling out and frightened
that someone will hear the call,
and destined to disappear
inside some other life.

Woman at the Window by Shirley Fachilla. Check out her blog and her amazing art at http://sometimesapainting.blogspot.com.

Today’s guest poet  —  Christina Rossetti

In Progress

Ten years ago it seemed impossible
That she could ever grow as calm as this,
With self-remembrance in her warmest kiss
And dim dried eyes like an exhausted well.
Slow-speaking when she has some fact to tell,
Silent with long-unbroken silences,
Centred in self yet not unpleased to please,
Gravely monotonous like a passing bell.
Mindful of drudging daily common things,
Patient at pastime, patient at her work,
Wearied perhaps but strenuous certainly.
Someday I fancy we may one day see
Her head shoot forth seven stars from where they lurk
And her eyes lightning and her shoulders wings.

Today’s guest poet  —  Babette Deutsch

Natural Law

If you press a stone with your finger,
Sir Isaac Newton observed,
The finger is also
Pressed by the stone.
But can a woman, pressed by memory’s finger,
In the deep night, alone,
Of her softness move
The airy thing
That presses upon her
With the whole weight of love?  This
Sir Isaac said nothing of.

Today’s guest poet – me!

She

She runs.

The sand spins beneath her feet
Kicked up by her heels
Impressed by her soles
Chasing air

She drifts.

Her hair spreads across the water
Reminiscent of seaweed and mermaids
Her eyes close to the heat of blue
Her body basks, basks

She wanders.

Slow and languid, lingering
In space and time
Patient
Serene

She flies.

Unencumbered by rain
Lightened by wind
Navigating by past missteps
And sightless wisdom

She waltzes.

Dips and turns beneath
The shooting stars
Accompanied by silent songs
In harmony with her steps

She sleeps.

Her breathing matches
The rhythm of the waves
As they settle on the shore
Infinitely calm

She dreams.

Warning:  Whiney Woman Post Ahead.

I simply do not understand this whole hormonal aging thing.  Last year, I went almost six months without a period.  I thought I was done – done early, but done.  And I was wrong.  I started back up in January.  And then I stopped again.  Until last month.  And this month.  And this month, I feel like a hemorrhaging stoned whale.  WTF?

I don’t even know what to think about it.  Talking to the doctor is a joke.  She just tells me that everyone is different, it’s all unpredictable, my hormone panels look perfectly fine, blah blah blah, can she BE any less help?  And for this I pay her oodles of dollars?  Honestly.

As women in close quarters often get, Kelsea and I are now on the same cycle.  As she said to me this morning, I’m worse than a 13-year old on her period.  She’s right.  I hurt.  I’m bitchy.  I’m huge.  I’m craving chocolate.  I’m queasy.  I’m sleepy.  I’m messy.  I’m whiney.  And don’t even talk to me about road rage.  If anyone on the road other than me knew how to drive, road rage wouldn’t be a problem.

But right now, everything is a problem.  Grrrr.

I have always gotten the Winter Blues.  They’re a little late in their severity this year – they just seem to have hit now.  I am subdued.  I am quiet.  I am teary.  I anger quickly.  I am despairing.  And I just figured out this morning, when I looked at all the bare trees and felt my soul sink, aching for want of green leaves, that SAD had finally struck.

When I first started noticing it years ago, it hit in January.  In recent years, it’s moved up to hitting in November or December.  This year, while I was, as usual, disgusted with the cold, and only satisfied with the snow when it was too deep to leave the house, I wasn’t experiencing the exceptional indigo blues that typically accompany winter.  Yes, I had the blues, but between divorce, the holidays and the cold, that was to be expected – they were your standard Crayola Blue blues.

Today, they hit me like a ton of sapphire bricks.

While Seasonal Affective Disorder is not, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM-IV), a mood disorder with its own classification code, it is what they call a “course specifier”, which means that it can contribute to major depression.  It appears to be a biochemical imbalance in the brain due to the shorter days of winter.  There have been arguments made that SAD is a natural response to cold and an absence of light – a sort of hibernation response that might very well have been a survival technique of our distant ancestors.  I’d believe that.

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • fatigue – got it, but what else is new?
  • lack of interest in normal activities – kind of got it
  • social withdrawal – no more so than usual
  • craving foods high in carbohydrates – no, no cravings thanks to Atkins
  • weight gain – again, kudos to Atkins for keeping this one at bay

While you might think that SAD would be worse in countries towards the Arctic Circle, such as Iceland and Norway, it’s actually less so.  Researchers suspect this may be some kind of genetic adaptation, or it may have to do with the large amounts of Vitamin D that people in these countries consume.  (Did you know that Icelandic people eat 225 pounds of fish per person per year?  I didn’t.)

SAD is primary treated with light therapy.  A special light that emits full spectrum bright white light can be helpful.  I used one off and on when I first started feeling the severe effects of SAD.  I pointed it to the backs of my knees (yes, I know, but it seemed to work) every morning for about 20 minutes.  I should probably retrieve it from Pat’s house, but it’s pretty big, being one of the first of its’ kind.  I’m sure they have more compact models now.

Other suggested treatments are:

  • Medicines – already doing that
  • Changes in diet – I can do that – fish are golden on Atkins
  • Learning to manage stress – Bah-Hah! SNORT!  Yeah, right….
  • Going to a sunny climate for the cold months – That one sounds like the best of all plans to me

One of my bosses insists that my SAD should start abating on December 22, when the days start getting longer.  He considers that date to be the beginning of spring.  I have tried, but I am unable to buy into that theory.

I am just going to have grumble and mourn my way through the cold until the first crocuses start appearing.  Until then, just be sure that all knives and sleeping pills are well out of my reach.  And keep the Kleenex handy.

Ah, yes.  The icing on the cake – or perhaps it is better characterized as between the layers? 

What better device to take my mind off the reality of my divorce and my impending unemployment than a lump in my breast?  No, wait – I’ve got it — two lumps in my breast!  One found by me, the other found by my doctor.

Let me preface the remainder of this post by saying it may be TMI for some, but perhaps it can be an educational experience for others.  For me, it’s a journal.

Every breast is different, just as every woman is different.  Now, I haven’t felt a lot of breasts in my time (with the exception of that group grope in the catering kitchen of Lionsgate after Mary got hers done).  It’s not something we women really discuss.  Men have, of course, felt more than I have, assuming they are lucky men, but they are not going around feeling breasts with the same focus as women such as myself.

I’ve got nice breasts, even now.  Back in my teens and twenties, they were small and practical.  Now they’re not small anymore – I would best describe them as “lush”.  I’m really quite fond of them.  From a breast tissue standpoint, they’ve always been lumpy, to use the technical term.  I’ve never felt comfortable doing breast self-exams because of their lumpiness.  I was never sure what I was feeling, and I was always a little queasy doing self-exams, probably because I was uncertain and afraid I would find something, because of my Mother.  And so I, like millions of other women, just wouldn’t do self-exams, unless it happened to cross my mind when I was in just the right headspace.  On the positive side, I have been religiously good about getting mammograms since my very early thirties, also because of my Mother.

So two months ago, when I was in the right headspace, I noticed a sort of thickening in my left breast.  Since I’m naturally lumpy (that really doesn’t sound attractive, does it?) and it was just after my period, I didn’t think much about it.  But three weeks ago, it came to my attention again, and it felt like there might be something unusual there.  Then I promptly forgot about it.  Until about ten days ago.  And I really felt it.  That was a Friday.  I called my doctor on Monday.  She saw me on Tuesday, and confirmed that not only did I have the lump I’d been feeling, but I had another one as well. 

When she confirmed my suspicions, she told me we needed to schedule a mammogram and an ultrasound, and a biopsy.  Biopsy?  That’s the word that makes your hands tingle and your head suddenly feel all light and spinny.  That’s the word that suggests that the dark things that have lived in the corners of my mind for years may be creeping out into the center of the room.  Doctors seem to toss the word out there so casually – do they know how it makes their patient (oops, almost said victim) feel?

The CNP proceeded to ask me more about my Mother’s medical history with her countless cancers, and asked if I had considered genetic testing.  My response was essentially, “Duh..uh..uh..i dunno?”  She said she knew how I felt and that her own mother had died of breast cancer when she (the CNP, not her mother) was eight years old, and she didn’t want the testing and they hadn’t told her that her mother died of cancer until she was “in the ground.”  You know, somehow, this story wasn’t making me feel any better.

On her way out the door, she tossed out the statement that I should talk to a surgeon (which generated a new round of feeling like a dog left on the side of a highway) and gave me a few names.  My parting words to her were, “I think you may have to write those down for me later.”  She laughed. 

How surreal the whole thing was.  Is.

That was Tuesday.  I called for my mammogram and they can’t see me until December 1.  Kelsea’s birthday.  How special.  I remember my Mother telling me on my 18th birthday, when she came in to kiss me goodnight, that she had cancer and was going in for surgery the next day.  She kept waiting to find the right time to tell me, and it somehow never came.  I remember lying in my bed that night, silently crying, tears flowing into my ears, thinking that THIS is what it’s like to be a grown-up.  Great.  I don’t want to tell Kelsea on her 13th birthday if my results are less than positive. 

I told Kathy and Denise, told Pat, told Mr. GF, told Issy, told E-Bro, told my boss Ivan.  That sounds like a lot of people to tell, now that I think about it.  I told people to feel less alone, but it didn’t seem to really help.  All last week, when I went to bed at night, I felt alone.  Very alone.  The hamsters that appear in the wee small hours have added a new team member – Cancer.  A little fuzzy hamster in a black cloak with a scythe.

Everyone has been a great comfort – Denise and Issy have offered to take me to the mammo appointment, Ivan provided me with some referrals for a good surgeon and oncologist (that one set me spinning again).  E-Bro and Bubba Sue are as supportive as they can be and make me feel loved.  Mr. GF offered the security of his arms and dedication regardless of how many breasts I have.

I told Kelsea yesterday.  I am not good at hiding things from her – she knew something was up.  It was hard – not as hard as telling her about the divorce, but hard.  We both shed a few tears and spent the rest of the day snuggling and laughing.  She is certain everything will be all right.  She offered to sleep with me, to keep me company.  It was enough just having her in her own room down the hall.

80% of breast lumps turn out to be non-cancerous.  There are many reasons that they appear, and they can disappear with no treatment at all.  But when you find a lump, cancer is the first thing that comes to mind.  If you watched your Mother die of cancer less than three years ago, after she’d lost one breast to it, and had a lumpectomy years before that, cancer is at the forefront of your thoughts.  Perhaps it’s alarmist, but it simply can’t be helped.  I have to ask myself, “Am I the 1 in 8 who will get breast cancer?”  I am one of ten women in my department at work.   Is it going to be one of us?  Is it going to be me? 

Is it already me?

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