23 Poems Before I Turn 23 Challenge: A Song from the Suds

Poem number 4

A Song from the Suds by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott is among the queens of queens and I dote on her. She is one of the authors who have permanently been on my reading list and I do hope I can someday strike her name off that never ending Neverland of a parchment. I have grown up watching the Little Women anime and the 1949 adaptation has been a favourite. Although I must admit that I’ve quite forgotten the specifics of the tale since I last saw the movie 6 years ago or so. This challenge has reminded me of my teen love and I will surely fall back into its arms as soon as I get the opportunity to sweep away the mundane dust of life (which is pretty much the theme of my next poem).

The Poem:

Queen of my tub, I merrily sing,
While the white foam raises high,
And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring,
And fasten the clothes to dry;
Then out in the free fresh air they swing,
Under the sunny sky.

I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls
The stains of the week away,
And let water and air by their magic make
Ourselves as pure as they;
Then on the earth there would be indeed
A glorious washing day!

Along the path of a useful life
Will heart’s-ease ever bloom;
The busy mind has no time to think
Of sorrow, or care, or gloom;
And anxious thoughts may be swept away
As we busily wield a broom.

I am glad a task to me is given
To labor at day by day;
For it brings me health, and strength, and hope,
And I cheerfully learn to say-
“Head, you may think; heart, you may feel;
But hand, you shall work always!”

My Thoughts:

I adore the simplicity of the poem. The words mean what they appear to mean, yet Louisa’s art of writing is pretty evident in the crafting of her sentences: they are short, crisp and lyrical. Her sense of humour is unparalleled and philosophical, if I might call it that. Her thoughtfulness is evident, but it is the clarity of her thoughts and words that I love the most, for clarity is something I strive to achieve in my writing. I have a muddled mind and I am a frazzled human being. And anybody who is not so inspires me and captivates me and enchants me.I am enthralled by this poem.

This is going to be one of the poems I will read to my kids someday, for it is beautiful and funny. Louisa compares a washcloth, out of all the things in the word, to life! And anybody who can pick up such a mundane and common thing and find beauty and grandeur in it is gifted according to me. She reiterates my philosophy of life: make yourself so busy that you have no time to think about the dullness and trauma surrounding life. This is something I’ve been doing ever since I took a lone trip this summer to satiate my wanderlust and realized that I’ve been fooling myself into believing that I’m not a loner. I realized during my sojourn just how beautiful life is when you do not have to depend on anybody else, but march to the beat of your own heart. Relationships are treacherous; they fool you into believing that you cannot survive on your own, when in fact being your own wolf pack is spectacular (and addictive). I’ve become so involved in myself that I barely have the time to think about unnecessary complications (but I still do drown in my misery sometimes, for I too am human).

I guess Louisa has found the answer to Alaska’s question, “How do you escape the labyrinth of suffering?” Dwell on thoughts, be angry and sad and broken, but do not stay idle. Work towards something. Work for something. Goals are one of the things that breathe sensibility into human existence. And all I do to stay sane is keep my eyes on the prize, when every inch of my body wants to stand and stare.

4 down, 19 poems and 24 days to go!

© That Girl in the Fray, 2015. All rights reserved. 

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A Letter to Myself from a Year Ago

Dear Me in September 2014

I know you’ve been through one of the darkest times of your life and that you’ve been working endless days and sleepless nights on a dream, feeling unappreciated, unloved, abandoned and more alone than ever. But know this, I love you for your strength, no matter how staggering you feel it is. And the first piece of advice your future self would give you is this: hold on. It is the key to every thorn and thistle in life. Think of this dark time as a roller coaster that you discover, as soon as it starts moving, is too fast for you, with every turn and spiral attempting to wrench your gut out of your body and making you curse yourself for drinking that damn lemonade right before you got on it. You just have to close your eyes, hold your insides inside you and wait for it to end. And trust me when I tell you this, it will.

After you’re done dealing with this low, you’ll probably be blinded by the high, as is always the case. My advice to you is, enjoy it while it lasts. This high too shalt pass and you will have to embrace the slump that follows, because this is life. It is a saga of highs and lows, of crests and troughs, of rises and falls, and the only time life would be a straight line is when the heart monitor shows that you’re dead. There will be pain, no matter how hard you will try to shield yourself with the iron armour you will cast and no matter how you will swear to never show your fragile soul to those around you. Do that, protect yourself, stand up for yourself, fight for yourself. No one else will do that for you but you yourself. But honey, you can’t let fear keep you from living your life. Your time is limited, slipping through your fingers relentlessly as it always will. Spend it in a way that you have no regrets left when father time does wake up and it is time for Narnia to end.

To dilute the melancholy, let me tell you that with the advent of summer, winter will fall behind and the sun will shine upon you. You will have the best time of your life and meet amazing people as you satisfy your wanderlust and fall in love just too many times with too many things. I don’t want to give away too much, since I’m hoping by some loophole in the space time continuum you are reading this a year ago from today. But I tell you this, your summer will be beautiful. There is nothing else to warn you about or prepare you for when it comes to summer because having gone through it all, I do not think I would change anything one bit. You need this just the way it is going to come to you. If I in all honesty had to advise you regarding this wondrous prospect about to dawn upon you in a few months, I would say take more risks and be brave.

To end this sermon I’ve been preaching, I just want to tell you that when it comes to pain and heart breaks and happiness and beauty, you have barely scratched the surface. Although I must tell you that the worst is behind you, things ahead are not that easy. You will fall and stumble and pass through the tunnel of darkness numerous times in the coming year. But I promise you there is also laughter and a lot of good books and Korean dramas awaiting you at the end of that tunnel. Your heart will ache. But you have to learn to deal with it, And remember, above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.

All my love

Your future self from September 2015

Comfortably Numb

Hath time been an enslaved dove I keep chained in the chamber,

My bidding an edict etched in stone for its survival,

It would fly to the cinematic moments I lack the strength to delete

The photographs I speak to night after endless night,

So I would stop myself from feeling I finally belonged.

To moments so I would hold my tongue from giving away a thousand hidden sentiments.

I would scream at myself, think, think for your mind is but a padded lock,

Think, you fool, for you know it is but a masquerade.

I would cry a thousand tears at once

to not have enough for the single drops that fall for a thousand nights.

I would inflict enough wounds on myself to be numb to the fight.

Numb, for I am numb now to every star every thunder,

My soul embracing the deep slumber.

Beauty is dead, my sorrow is a vacant stinging hollow.

The Art of Letting Go

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder

Even though this song moves my heart and makes me feel alive, as I lie in the grass looking at the stars and the rainbow shimmer of the moon kissing the clouds gracing the magical sky, I cannot help but disagree with these words. For what I’m doing to save myself from the sting of the lacerations (something that I attribute to my gift of blind faith due to my naivety and downright daftness) is stoning my soul and making my heart colder. I’m trying not to allow myself to feel anything. I’m building a home on the shore of a sea numb to the pull of the moon, swaying and crashing, rising and dropping as it is meant to; it has no command over what happens. The sea cannot help but fall and flail.

I’ve come to accept the fact that it is me who breaks my own heart every time I’m let down and left like a fool in the midst of a storm sans shelter of any kind; I am the one who gives contemptible humans that kind of power over me. It is due to my own lack of judgment that I find myself at the threshold of my darkest sentiments every single time I ignore that little voice in my head that tries to stop me from trusting people. Every single time that I’ve pulled down the walls around the most sensitive parts of my soul, I’ve been proved wrong and made to feel foolish. The most fragile parts of me have been trampled into the mud by boots that don’t have a speck of humanity in them, let alone any fleeting concern for me. “Perhaps we all give the best of our hearts uncritically to those who hardly think about us in return.”

So I think it is wise to make your world a little colder and not be bothered to show people who you truly are inside. In my case, that has meant letting people into my heart and letting them matter to me. Not anymore though. I’m not letting anyone into my soul or mind ever again. I’m done with trying to run after pretentious illusions who will not stand up for me or care about me.

I’m going to be a mirror to almost everyone in my life. I will treat people in the exact way they treat me and swallow the guilt that usually threatens to engulf me in the process. I’m done with giving others the power to destroy my peace of mind and happiness; no one in my life deserves that privilege. So I will play it cool and not care about anything or anyone who causes me pain, whether it is intentional or not. I will not fight for anyone or pursue anybody for their regard, unless they do the same for me.

I don’t think we reach places because of the decisions we take; rather, it is the mistakes that we make that end up deciding where we end up. And I’m trying to be okay with the fact that I’ve always trusted the wrong people who have left me hating myself more than I can ever hate them, for it is my own stupidity that is to be blamed. And I hope and pray that all my mistakes lead me to my true self that is waiting beyond the mist, calling out to me in this dark battlefield as I wade my way through it. So, as of now, I’m letting go of all the people in my life who do not deserve to be there. I will not let my forlornness cloud my vision again. And if it does, I will make my world even colder and let go of that as well.

Her

There is this agony that I fail to define

This want, this need beyond the comprehension of my mind

Her lips, Her eyes, Her glistening smile,

Your phantasm of Her walking down the aisle

I know I’m the one

who told you to seek out the stars

I know I’m the one

who told you to follow the flight of your heart.

Tragic, though, I’m not the one.

The air stings this face that cannot breathe

The sea rises in infinite rays across the pier where I lean

salt meets salt, the clouded eyes that cannot see.

Wasn’t this charred heart enough?

The shards of glass in my soul, weren’t they enough?

The sting of your words dedicated to Her,

The bruises you never saw in your grand gestures on the spur,

You lifted Her in the air and crowned Her in all glory

I, the antagonist of my story

I helped you bleed your own heart

and hid the joy of the daggers I’d sunk in my part

The suffering, the pain, the loss, the darkness, how much was enough?

What a waste, the salt, the sea, the scars my nails dug in the wood leave

My silent scream at Her indifference, your unrequited love, your salt, my salt

Your broken heart is my burden to bear.

A Message into the Void

I dedicate this to every soul on this planet who has ever felt like a misfit,

To those who have felt the coldness creep into the spine as they look upon the world, with no sound but the beating of their own heart and nothing to keep them warm but their own breath,

To every braveheart who has stood up for a belief so strong, pure and powerful that it scares the multitude, who is unable to grasp its beauty,

To every innocent soul who has trusted someone despite their better judgement, let down their walls and allowed someone to see their true self sans the inherent protective cavalry, but instead of acceptance found criticism, judgement, deceit and a crumbling wall of fake vows.

To everyone who has ever felt alone, judged, deceived, heartbroken, unloved, unappreciated, cheated, ignored, hollow, unwanted, misunderstood, awkward, weak, frail, broken, lost, I dedicate every word, every syllable, every thought, every idea to you.

No matter how hard it is not to believe in the goodness of people, the truth is that you will be let down by most of them. Then infiltrates the anger, mostly at your own self for ever trusting someone with your thoughts and secrets. And then comes in the determination to never ever trust anybody again, to build castle walls around your heart, to shut your soul off in the highest tower and throw away the key so that it can never be found and no one can ever hurt you again. But then despite all of the pain and suffering and tears, you open the castle doors after piecing together your shattered soul, sewing up your tattered heart, and venture out again, get hurt, come back, lock yourself up, cry, and the vicious cycle never breaks.

One thing that I’ve realised as I’ve had people rip my heart out again and over again is that in the moments I feel completely and utterly alone, like I’m the only person to ever feel so brutalized at the hands of cold, oblivious and inhumane antagonists of my life, I visit the darkest places imaginable, my mind drowns in the depth of the deepest darkest thoughts and I feel utterly lost. It is in these moments we need to hold on to the beauty and peace that seems like an illusion, a chimera, a mirage at such times.

As John Green says, “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in the world. But you do have some say in who hurts you.” I do believe that there’s an exception out there, someone who is going to make me question every opinion I have and prove all my cynical perceptions wrong, someone worth all the pain and suffering, someone who will be the reason for me to break down all walls. But until the day I meet that noble soul, I refuse to be hurt by ungrateful fiends. I wield the shield of numbness, indifference and ignorance as I wander alone, my moments of clarity guiding me home against the forces of the wind and tide. I choose not being hurt.