Friday, April 25, 2014

A Woman He Held

A Woman He Held

Something beautiful, that old green boat
moving slowly in the water. 

Something exquisite, that man rowing 
while a woman he has held intimately 
hundreds of times 
sits near and rests. 

Rests from the wars in the days 
rests from the wars in the hours
and more than just rests; she smiles 
deeply brightens and comes alive

as the wing of a butterfly, landing 
on the other side of the pond, 
gently touches her cheek. Yes. 

All of God, which is everything,
is really so close, 
and caresses us now and then,
if your senses are alert. 

On my better days, a falcon's wing 
crafts these words,
as I watch. 

         Thinking of this poem gave me the mental imagery of a 1930s woman in a bonnet and sundress passing the time on a Sunday with her husband near a lake. Soon after, I realized maybe I had borrowed this imagery from one of the first edition covers of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night. Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda, served as the inspiration for this novel when she had her first nervous breakdown in early 1930 and was institutionalized in Switzerland. It soon became apparent that she would never fully recover and Fitzgerald ultimately poured every feeling into Tender Is The Night - his feelings, however offensive, of "wasting" his love and life on someone mentally ill, his viewpoint on psychiatry, about which he had learned a great deal during Zelda's treatment, and about his own loses in life, including the loss of his father a short time after Zelda fell ill.
       And as readers, it begs us to ask the same questions...can we love someone through mental illness? Through psychosis? Through memory loss? Through infidelity? Can we love someone when they quite frankly are no longer the person we set out loving?
         There is a hauntingly beautiful thought when Fitzgerald wrote, "I don't ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember, somewhere inside of me, there will always be the person I am tonight."                                                           

                                                     One More Day (2001), Diamond Rio

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