On the perfect yellow rose
rested a dewdrop
as perfect as the rose
in every way.
It slid down the petal
with a most perfect grace,
then fell to the rich soil below,
content to find its place.
I will never be as perfect as the dewdrop,
yet in my awkward way, I have my grace,
and I shall be content, when that time comes
to fall gently, but with dignity, into my place.
From my journal, 1974.
This poem brings back memories. I recall typing it out as a homemade card for my dad for either his birthday or Father’s Day, weeks or months after I wrote it. Today I think a lot differently about perfection. Back then I secretly wanted perfect — perfect roses, perfect looks, perfect prospects, perfect romance. I envisioned a perfect future as an adult. A perfect home, a perfect family.
I’ve come to appreciate flaws, in nature and in people — in all the surprising ways things turn out. A perfect rose doesn’t exist, except in a hothouse, and I don’t want to live in a hothouse. No one has a perfect life. Such a life only exists in that trite phrase, happily ever after. Does anyone know what that means? Beauty? There are lots of unhappy beautiful people. Wealth? There are lots of unhappy wealthy people. A fairytale romance? We’ve seen where that got some real life princesses.
Today I find lopsided roses endearing. They’re more like me. I can identify. They’re more like everyone.
As for perfection in my work, in my actions, I’ve learned there are tradeoffs of time and energy and expected outcomes. I can negotiate with myself and decide when to stop and be content. There are points at which I know certain things are done. Maybe they’re perfect, maybe they’re not — but there’s no more to fix, adjust, edit, or tweak. It’s time to move along to the next thing. At that point the next thing becomes the now thing, and that’s most important.
But the sentiment expressed in the poem still applies, and I think a lot now, as I did when I struggled to decide what to do with my life, about one’s calling. We each have one, some purpose for being here. The thing is, it may remain a mystery all our lives, even as we fulfill it. Sometimes the really important things aren’t what we planned, sometimes we don’t even remember them, they’re just the after effects of our passage through others’ lives. The important things are more likely to happen behind us in positive ways if we’re kind than if we aren’t, if we appreciate others than if we don’t, if we’re forgiving rather than not. But we still may not know in this life what they were, how we made someone feel, or inspired them, or taught them.
I think we’re very lucky if we find a purpose we recognize and can be happy with, even if it doesn’t mean being a star, or rich, or having perfect teeth, or keeping one’s hair free of gray, or one’s hair altogether. I remember my mom once saying it would’ve been nice to have more money, but the most important thing one needed in abundance while raising kids was love. She left a lot of love in her wake.
Today I think that with all our flaws we’re glorious, spectacular. We shine, especially if we can accept our imperfections, even love them, and especially if we can love, forgive, and accept the flaws in others, and go on living each day as thoroughly, vibrantly, and full of wonder as possible.
Considering the peace that time has brought me, I wouldn’t be 18 again for anything.
But . . . if I had the body today that I was so dissatisfied with then, I’d be ecstatic. It’s true youth is wasted on the young. At least youthful bodies are. Damn it. (wink)
Copyright © 1974, 2007 Barbara W. Klaser
We pack things into
this keeper of castoffs,
treasures fallen from favor,
things no one wants
to remember or forget.
Letters and cards,
photos of the loved, departed,
clothes that no longer fit,
traces of money earned,
then lost or spent,
yellowed magazines, books
we’ll surely read again,
and those no one will—
manuscripts that didn’t sell.
Seasons in a box come out
to shine each winter
from the back of the house’s mind,
barely accessible memories
obscured most of the year by dust.
Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser
* * *
In case you aren’t aware, my other blog is Mystery of a Shrinking Violet. Today you’re invited to attend the Dance of the palm fronds.
Dear Mr. Poe,
Thank you for the poetry, the stories, the mystery.
* * *
The Raven (excerpt)
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!
* * *
If I could dwell
Hath dwelt, and he where I,
He might not sing so wildly well
A mortal melody,
While a bolder note than this might swell
From my lyre within the sky.
* * *
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I lov’d, I loved alone.
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.
(The above three poems were written by Edgar Allan Poe.)
Truth doesn’t come in a pretty package
tied up in wrapper and ribbon.
Truth comes in a flash of insight,
in words left unspoken.
One might pray for truth yet never find it
until ready, stretching, in a desperate,
humble moment of surrender.
Truth doesn’t enter the writer’s mind
while she waits, pen poised to capture it.
Truth comes in the dark of night, in a dream,
or from the mouth of a child. It comes
in a glancing ray of sunlight breaking
like a fountain through clouds,
barely glimpsed while fighting morning traffic.
It comes in the patter of rain,
after the lightning flash, after the thunder.
Truth is corruption still in the making,
unseen by the faithful,
veiled in lies, covered
layer on careful layer.
The scandal is never as naked as the truth.
Copyright © 1990, 2007 Barbara W. Klaser
When I’m invisible,
I watch people go on
living all around,
unaware that I watch.
Dropping their guard,
they dance and flow and sing,
full streams of clear
Only as long
as I’m silent, apart,
not a part of their lives,
never entering their hearts.
For when I begin to interact with people,
and my cloak of invisibility falls away,
I am revealed; and all that was real in them departs.
People drift away and fall apart from me,
withered rose petals loosened on a winter wind.
How I long to catch their warm, soft scent again.
Copyright © 1990 Barbara W. Klaser
Written in my journal in 1990, from feelings of shyness and otherness. I started to edit this for the blog, but I’ve decided to just post the original because it captures who I was then and the feeling at the time. If I edit it now it will be another poem.
Turtleheart asked in “Journaling Stuff” (link no longer active):
“Do you regularly keep any kind of personal journal, online or off? What works best for you?”
I started out journaling on looseleaf notebook paper, as a girl. Sometimes I bought colored paper or a spiral notebook for a change. Later I collected bound blank books to journal in, but I feel freer handwriting on plain lined yellow pads, because I don’t care if I scratch out or mess them up. (more…)