Friday, October 28, 2016

I Wish I'd Written This

Mom asked about her brother today

By Stevie Strang

Mom asked about her brother today. Is he alright? 

Yes, Mom, he’s alright. He’s with your parents now, and your sister. 

One tear formed at the corner of her eye and stopped. 

And is he with your father too? 

I’m sure he is, Mom. 

Well, my mother didn’t like him very much but I’m sure they’re getting along now.

Mom points to the middle of the room.

‘Cuz they’re both right here…looking over me.

life
if only we knew
what comes next



I encountered Stevie Strang on facebook. I'm so glad I did, as I enjoy and admire her poetry. This one in particular speaks to me, as I have survived elderly parents and an elderly husband. The poem describes a unique experience, but reminds me of things of similar nature, which are in my unique experience – a perfect example of the personal becoming universal. 

Though it's a poignant, moving piece, I don't find it a painful reminder. It's so full of love – in the way Stevie writes of her mother, and in the way her mother speaks of other family members. What a gift, to convey what is essentially tragic with so much tenderness, so that we see instead both the enduring love and the cosy day-to-dayness of family. And then, the profound, universal question she concludes with is posed with new immediacy – carrying huge mystery, frustration, and resignation in three short, economical lines!

And she is indeed very gifted. She describes herself as writer and photographer. I have seen some of her photos, and they are strikingly beautiful. Her online bio tells me that, as a ninth generation Southern Californian, she has written short stories and poems about the land that her grandmother was raised on. She says that her interests in haiku, haiga, tanka and haibun have 'added to the literary romance of that historical era'. 

Although she prefers non-fiction, she also dabbles in free verse, micro poetry and flash fiction, and is currently working on a novel. 

In 2010 she received a Second Honorable Mention in the Anita Sadler Weiss Memorial Haiku Awards.  Stevie’s work has appeared in both print and on-line publications such as Moonbathing, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Eclectic Flash and Simply Haiku, as well as other hardback anthologies. 

She has also authored Gently Into The Night, Amazon Kindle, JPStudioArt Press, 2006; One Chapter at a Time – Everyone Has a Story, JPStudioArt Press, 2011; The Gift, Amazon Kindle, JPStudioArt Press, 2012; Just Thoughts in a Windowless Room – yeah I’m over 50, JPStudioArt Press, 2012 and coming soon, No Stone Left Unturned, a book of Haibun, JPStudioArt Press, 2017.

Her most recent chapbook is Rensaku PRINTEMPS A CAPPELLA, a collaborative work in French and English with three other authors, Luce Pelletier and Louise Vachon from Canada, and Kath Abela Wilson from the United States.

Her websites include: JPSTUDIOART (exquisite writings, many illustrated by exquisite photos), ...JUST WORDS (subtitled: Take a picture, write some words; in this case it appears the writings illustrate the images), Twitter: @jpstudioart, and Stevie Strang on FaceBook.

And here's a bonus, dear readers. Stevie generously shared this fascinating haibun, which gives us more personal details about herself and further elucidates the poem I've featured.
  
A little bit about Stevie Strang:

I was born and raised in Southern California where I now reside in the beach town of Laguna Niguel.
Ever since I could remember I have had a pencil in my hand.  I wrote down my thoughts and silly poems on any scratch of paper I could find, made daily lists and documented every detail of each doll I owned.  I constantly drew and printed with my newly sharpened pencil and always had a large pink rubber eraser on hand.
Then, for my 8th birthday, my Great Aunt Lucille gave me my most precious gift…a simple, blue, ball point Shaeffer pen.  I was in heaven.  I kept it in the cigar box my Grandpa gave me right along with a small green binder that held all the words I had put together in my short years on this Earth.

little green binder
the last page
still blank

From that day on I wanted to be a writer.
I hung out in coffee shops in the 60s.  Watched, observed, and absorbed the anti-war messages, love ins, hippie clothes, and sung the praises of Woodstock.
Got married young, had kids, then went to college where I majored in Art.
I was a Doll Conservator for Museums by trade, and now, in between taking care of my mother, I devote my time to writing and photography.
I have been a constant companion to my mother for the past eleven years.  She affords me the patience and understanding that comes with caregiving and a learned ability to observe, empathize, and write about the stages of a parent with dementia. 
As hard as it has been, I will forever be grateful to my mother for this experience.

on a clear day
my hands can still hold you
my heart can still love
dementia





Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.



11 comments:

  1. Wow! Loving this into silence. Thank you.

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  2. That poem takes my breath away in its realness.
    Poignant, sad, but very real...

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  3. Wow! Thank you for this introduction, Rosemary, and thank you, Stevie, for this glimpse of the Mystery. I have encountered similar visitations to those at the end of life and find them comforting. I will be reading much more of Stevie's work....so real, the stuff of life. I especially admire the love in the second haiku.....boots on the ground, love in the trenches....inspiring.

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  4. Brilliant Choice! Thank you Rosemary. <3

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  5. Thank you Rosemary--there is real tenderness in her work--for herself and others--what a great introduction to Stevie's work--

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  6. Thank you so much for posting my work, Rosemary! I hope to share more of this stage of growth with many, as I feel this is the learning tool and key to life, here and beyond.

    Stevie Strang

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    1. That will be an important sharing for sure, Stevie!

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  7. it is such a stunning poem. yes, i agree with you that it is a moving piece, but not a painful reminder, because it also speaks of love and reconcilement.

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  8. Wow Rosemary, thank you for introducing me to this remarkable woman. She captures the emotion, and facts so succinctly. I have had a mother in law with Alzheimer's and now my mom has dementia, she's actually doing pretty well, but it's a twisty mountain road--emotionally.

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  9. Thanks so much for introducing this extraordinary woman. I love her style.

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