Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I like my voice


{mebilia}

God delivers messages through goosebumps.  Just a moment ago a conversation with my grandmother from last week about writing and poetry and life and missions slid into my mind.  When she said, "I like my voice" it left such a powerful impression on me that I haven't been able to forget it... like a song that plays over and over again in my head.  Grandma Mary was sharing her wisdom about growing as a writer and praying for gifts.  If you want something, if you lack a gift, pray for it she says.  Let the spirit guide you, write for yourself, and for God, don't compare yourself to others.  I asked her so many questions and she answered so many... she has always been my mentor.  I have grown through the years listening to her poetry, her songs, her stories about dragons and Joseph of Egypt.  I have recently struggled with my own voice as doubt and discouragement creep into my head.  I yearn to express what's in my heart, and I have felt with the over-abundance of writers out there, that I am but a mere whisper.  Then when she said, "I like my voice" it hit me, don't write to please "them", write just because it's who you are... let it flow, cultivate your expression, meld it into something organic, not forced.  Sometimes I feel like I'm in preschool, making sentences with a limited vocabulary... like I know something is inside of me wanting to get out, and I can't translate my emotions into human language.  I want to be able to say that "I like my voice".
***
Minutes later after I thought about my grandmother, I opened an email message from my mom saying that her dear aunt Helen, my grandmothers sister, had passed away suddenly last night.  It feels raw to talk about this, but I can't help but notice the timing of my thoughts and the way the spirit was telling me something deep and important if I would listen, and I did.  Sometimes getting answers to prayers is like retrieving broken morse code, snatching parts here and there... when at a magical moment, the dots and dashes come together to complete the whole message, making perfect sense... harmony.  My great Aunt Helen was an amazing poet.  She won many awards and was as graceful and talented as a woman could be.  She will be so missed, but we have her words, her voice.  We can carry her and visit her thoughts when we read her poems.  Because she has opened her heart and shared it in ink, we have her with us always... in that respect, writing makes you eternal. 
***
The following are some of Helen's poems taken from the book-

Bread and Milk and Music- Three Sister's Voices
by, karen keith gibson, helen keith beaman, and mary keith boyack
*
Stringing Beads

My first best friend and I searched
for treasure behind her house
Where rain dripped from eaves,
we found tiny rocks glinting in sunlight,
pieces of colored glass: rubies, emeralds,
diamonds---and bugs we held like jewels
as they rolled themselves up into beads

I see a dragonfly darting, darning
holes in my sky, stitching together
prayers and songs I sang as a child,
stringing them, knotting the ends:
pearls to present to God.

I sat with my daughter, guiding
the dull needle as she strung popcorn
She sits with her daughters threading
jewels of colored glass, boxes of rainbows.

Blackbirds, strung like onyx beads
on the power line, lift together
and scatter, the necklace breaking.

I look for pieces under my bed,
in the corners.  Fingers brush
back and forth, so I don't miss
what I cannot see.

My husband recounts stories
nospaceinbetween, linked
like paper chains on a Christmas tree
until they connect ending to beginning.

This morning he brought me
a dead dragonfly, arms fold,
wings wide to span a lifetime.
I frame it against a sky, watch,
wait for the signal to unfold,
to wing our way home.
*
Lon Grew Up

thinking he was as old
as his siblings.  He and I talk.
His kindergarten friend walks
with leg braces.  Lon watches
him go all the way across
the tricky-bars, cheers him on.
The other kids pull faces, laugh.

Hey, you just do the baby way!
Duh-duh, duh-duh---little baby!

Well, I bet you couldn't do it
if you'd had polio!  Lonnie slams
the words back at them.
His breath staggers in the telling,
throat constricts, eyes expand, hands clench.
He relives the passion.

He grew up to be a policeman--
father of three sons
and six daughters.
He has championed all of them
just like he did his friend
in first grade.
*
Missing Lines

I search for the grandmother
who died too soon to hang a memory on.
The family photograph fails to capture more
than one stark and stilted flash,
a final sitting before she was too weak
to sit, before she was---

Daddy, not yet six, stands
behind the others.  I see pain
in his face.  Bess hid his shoes,
but it's more than that.
The three sisters cluster like the Pleiades
around Grandmother's knee.
The pain in her face is because--

I search, trying to pry loose
her mask of mortality.  That shell,
closing too soon on her life,
also hides us from ourselves.
Grandchildren will scan my image,
wondering what I never knew myself.

10 comments:

Nancy said...

Not that it makes a difference to you but I love your voice.

Dad said...

I loved Helen. I remember the first time I met her with your mother. She had adopted two wonderful children because she couldn't get pregnant. And then at 40 something she was pregnant. She had to stay in bed so not to loose the baby. And that's where she was the first time we met, holding her tummy with her hands and so excited to have what would be her daughter Zoe. Helen was one of the sweetest souls I ever met. Such a loss for her loved ones, but heaven is happy to have her back!

Sara, I love your writing. Your ability isn't surprising to me since I watched you growing up- ballet, piano, and the gifted school. Always ahead of your age....such a talent. So enjoy the ride of your life! It will be wonderful! You will see it unfold naturally! Love you!

Sadie Jane said...

I loved your post SARA!! Just to let you know your voice and writing really is the reason I write today! I LOVE YOU MORE THAT YOU KNOW!! You are such an amazing person!! For reals yo!!

Sara said...

each and every one of your words mean so much to me.

LaVerna said...

Sara, I accidentally found you today, searching for Helen's obituary. What a gift! You are so beautiful! Shades of your grandmother Mary, your great aunts Helen and Karen! The Keith gift... I spent two weeks with your Grandmother Mary and Aunt Helen in Ireland, chasing words, and drinking in Ireland. The Keith sisters have been my sisters through poetry, and I love them so much. Your grandmother is one of the most amazing, most true and beautiful women I have ever known, and I see her in you. How wonderful this is! i know the light will be carried forward through you! Helen's death has been a crushing blow. How we will miss her! Love, LaVerna B. Johnson, obviously one of your adopted family members though you don't know me.

LaVerna said...

Oh dear, I said drinking in Ireland...

I meant "drinking-in" Ireland, not DRINKING in Ireland. Tea-toteler, totally!

How embarrassing! I hope your grandmother Mary will laugh it off... but she knows me...apologies to all!

LaVerna

miniSCHOF said...

Where was the camera and pics of the LAN party when I was there? I'm hurt Sara. Well... not really. ;P

Berta Webb said...

Sara,
Your voice is one I cherish above all others. It is authentic, funny, tender, thought-provoking, kind, and familiar. I don't like my voice, but I sure like your's!

Sara said...

LaVerna,
Thank you so much for all your sweet words and for saying hello. I was so excited to read your message and laughed too:) I love my family so much, and it's so neat to find connections with like-minded people (like you!) who appreciate the same beautiful things in life. I will pass your message along to my grandmother, she will find comfort in it.

Take Care!
Sara

O'BRIEN FAMILY BLOG said...

I must say that you have never been anything less than an inspiring and lovely voice from my perception. Self perception on the other hand ... i hard thing to deal with. I understand!!! that being said your little post has really put some thoughts in my head. thank you thank you for sharing. its been so nice to catch up on your blog today and be part of your life from afar!