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

On Days When You Feel Lost

On days when you can’t see the stars at night

when the demons in your head won’t let you sleep

when the insipid illusion of life turns you into a nonchalant drone

when all is but a barren sunless dystopia

I promise to hold you in my arms

to tell you that you are loved and cherished

that I will be there through hell

I’ll be there through heaven

I’ll be the knight in your night

and the blue sky in your day

And the smell of iron rust of routine and dailyness

will, thus, be marred by the promise of May.

That’s How I Know You are the One

When we are together you make me feel like my mind is free and my dreams are reachable

You know I never ever believed in love,

I believed one day that you would come along and free me.

These lyrics to the beautiful Kodaline song caress my heart and soul, as I’m in this half asleep mode where the world seems so pretty and my body is ready to embrace the words of a lullaby serenading me to sleep. I’m breathing in the air and letting it cleanse my mind and praying this stillness lasts forever.

I’m waiting for these lyrics to come true one day when I’m ready to surrender my heart and be vulnerable again. To gauge the depth of the whole other worldly process of baring your true soul to someone and let their opinions about its edges and contours matter, I’ve learnt that I’m not really ready for it right now. This past year has taken its toll on me and lead to my metamorphosis into someone who doesn’t care about minute things and hurtful words that would evaporate in their essence in barely any time. It has taken a tremendous effort and a lot of rivers and rain to become who I am at the moment. I’ve let the sentiments that had been seething in me out and buried them six feet under. I refuse to have to start from the scratch again, at least for now.

Today, as I was having lunch with a few friends, listening to one of my favourite songs play made me transcend the realms of the four walls and I had an epiphany; I realized how music was something that cracked my facade of stoicism and filled me up with emotions I thought I had become numb to. This then lead me to another avenue and I decided something: I had to save all of these emotions for the time when I would need to share them with the only person I ever want to share them with. I’ve never really made a mixtape for any person in my life, nor will I ever until I find The One to whom I’ll feel safe enough to bare my soul. I’m saving up all these feelings and all these little moments of thorough spectacular spectacles in the form of playlists for every speck of the kaleidoscope, for when I’m feeling on top of the world, for when I feel like I need to vent my frustration, for when I’m feeling blue or red or black or purple. And the only person who will ever have a right over them will be The One who makes my heart feel like it’s summer.

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.

The Mirrored Avowal

The lull before the night of the storm shatters her deep slumber

A sharp intake of breath, awoken, she steps on her broken rose coloured glasses in a lumber

She runs through the empty halls, her feet leaving behind crimson dreams on the floor

She stops in front of the gold gilded mirror, breathless, lost to the core

A sarcastic laugh leaves her lips as she notices the crinkles near her eyes

For she knows her soul is but a barrel of unfermented wine

Standing there, she is wide awake now to the numbness flowing through her veins

A heart blind to roses, but not to the thorns and the pain

The darkness, the confusion, the entrapment in a dungeon sans the light

Her bare legs buckle on the cold floor, she is damaged beyond her might

Frustrated, she punches the mirror hard

Blinded by tears, with a crimson palm she lifts a shard

Cuts off her hair piece by piece, the silky locks wither and float down

She has lost the sanctuary she knew, her safe haven is tattered like her white gown

She stands up and walks, for now ends her life in pastel

In the moonlight, she steps barefoot into the world outside her castle.

The piercing cold, her new comrade, she embraces.

The Mirrored Avowal

The Mirrored Avowal

Escaping the Labyrinth

It is a truth well acknowledged that I usually write when I’m horribly lost among the horrible monsters that reside in my brain. So that makes it reasonably important to tuck away little pieces of sunshine so that I can dig them up when I feel like I’m floating about without a center of gravity.

Time and again I’ve been forced to acknowledge the fact that things mostly never turn out the way you want them to and more often than not disappointment is a constant comrade. As W.B Yates says, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”

Quoting something I read recently, “The Buddha knew one thing science didn’t prove for millennia after his death: Entropy increases. Things fall apart.” I guess the only way to survive life is to accept that the world is ephemeral. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing stays the same forever. So depending on anything, or anyone for that matter, is sheer foolishness.

So how do you “escape the labyrinth” of never ending suffering and torment? To answer Alaska Young’s question, you hold on. You hold on to things of beauty, to moments of clarity, to stories and sentiments of epicness and save them in your heart forever. You etch them in your mind, save them in ink and paper, carve them, treasure them and never let them escape. When your sky is dark and the earth is shaking your bed, when your hope is at its end, you relive these moments, draw strength from them and build your broken self up again.

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.