Thursday, February 02, 2006
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Row, Row, Row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream……….
Anne Sexton : Life into Art
A story, a story!
(Let it go. Let it come.)
I was stamped out like a Plymouth fender
into this world.
First came the crib
with its glacial bars.
and the devotion to their plastic mouths.
Then there was school,
the little straight rows of chairs,
blotting my name over and over,
but undersea all the time,
a stranger whose elbows wouldn't work.
Then there was life
with its cruel houses
and people who seldom touched -
though touch is all-
but I grew,
like a pig in a trenchcoat I grew,
and then there were many strange apparitions,
the nagging rain, the sun turning into poison
and all of that, saws working through my heart,
but I grew, I grew,
and God was there like an island I had not rowed to,
still ignorant of Him, my arms and my legs worked,
and I grew, I grew,
I wore rubies and bought tomatoes
and now, in my middle age,
about nineteen in the head I'd say,
I am rowing, I am rowing
though the oarlocks stick and are rusty
and the sea blinks and rolls
like a worried eyeball,
but I am rowing, I am rowing,
though the wind pushes me back
and I know that that island will not be perfect,
it will have the flaws of life,
the absurdities of the dinner table,
but there will be a door
and I will open it
and I will get rid of the rat inside of me,
the gnawing pestilential rat.
God will take it was his two hands
and embrace it.
As the African says:
This is my tale which I have told,
if it be sweet, if it be not sweet,
take somewhere else and let some return to me.
This story ends with me still rowing.
- "Rowing" by Anne Sexton, from The Awful Rowing Towards God
This rowing is very hard. Just when I think I have everything figured out. I realize I don't. And then the hardest part is I realize I am all alone. I can't bring anybody with me. I have to row this boat all alone.
I have been hitting my daughters over the head with all the wonderful new things I have discovered. Filled with enlightment and joy, I just want them to get on the boat with me. Go here, read this, listen to this. A shock to realize that they weren't listening at all. Then I had a vision of my little girl self patiently nodding my head to my mother who loved and strived her whole life to be what she thought God wanted her to be, and tried to make me come with her. My eyes glazed over, my ears grew plugs. Nodding my head, yes mother dear. But the whole time not listening at all. And I realize now that I can't make my daughters get in the boat with me. Only I can row, and row, and row.
And now I realize, my mother was too.