Soaking it up
On a lone walk through the woods
Leaving the choice of direction to
Intuition and wise, willing feet
Taking my time to listen
Underneath my chattering mind
Deep within to a voice that’s too shy until
Everyone but the trees has gone
Scared to face the layers
Of boredom, fear, confusion, that
Loudly proclaim ‘we’re social animals!’
In the hope of avoiding
That meeting with self, soul, stillness
Up goes the volume on the TV
Don’t people get punished for serious crimes by
Enforced solitary confinement?
So it’s time to make (another) cup of tea
Over an hour, I’m sure, since the last
Let it brew for a few
It’s not like there’s any rush
They’re so busy you know
Under so much pressure
Debts and work and school meetings – but
Even just a phone call would sweeten my tea
So where are you?
Are you in my head? My heart?
Down in my stomach?
Now they all ache, weep, heave
Eyes made brighter like dew strewn petals
Shining, alive, reflective
Stretching me, heart and soul
So heavy I could fall
All the way through the nets of friendship
Deep into the drowning depths
No light, no air
Even the life that surrounds me
Seems silent and still down here
Soaked to my soul skin
So yes, I’ve inundated you a bit today, but following a walk and talk with a wise friend, I was encouraged to play with this acrostic challenge I’ve set myself a little more, and move beyond just positive words (there was a reason I started there, but more on that another time) to explore words assumed to be wholly negative, or indeed to explore a word that I personally have a spontaneously positive response to, then write it from another angle.
With solitude, I ended up writing three. The first is my immediate, most natural response. Solitude is a resoundingly positive word for me, as the poem shows. However, as a word it is of course far more rounded and complex than that. The second was an attempt to explore its more challenging side, but as I reread, it feels like more of a judgement of those who are not comfortable with being alone. The third was my attempt to genuinely feel into a situation where solitude is experienced as truly upsetting and difficult, and one I find no difficulty empathizing with.
With sadness I was already in a place of finding it an emotion that lays warmly and wholly somewhere central for me. No doubt if we were asked to divide emotions neatly in two, this would end up on the negative side. However, my experience of sadness is one of discomfort, yes, but also one of softness and connection, and one that is capable of making me feel as alive as joy, in the sense of it making me very aware of my heart and of my responsiveness to the world around me. I saw a beautiful film a while back, Inside Out, which explored the emotions as characters in the mind of a young girl experiencing a time of great change and challenge in her life. I remember reading in one review how the character of ‘sadness’ had been the reviewer’s personal favourite. So when I wrote the two sadness acrostics, that mixture and movement is what I was attempting to get across in the first, and the second was my attempt at writing it as wholly negative. Personally I find the first more interesting and more real/true.
If you’ve read this far…thanks very much!!! And as you’ve already proved your stamina and interest, do you fancy having a go at a solitude or sadness poem of your own, to explore your own responses to those words? I’d love to see them in the comments section.