Coming to Terms
March 28, 2009 § 8 Comments
Recently, I had a conversation with someone about writing memoir. I shared that I have written publicly about painful incidents that I had never shared privately, and she replied that it had taken her years to write about personal experiences.
I wonder why for some of us, writing is safer than speaking. For me, it creates a distance from the event, as if I’m an actor in a play I haven’t written. I’m able to step back and see the scene with more compassion and less judgement. But at the same time, I’m healing: I can feel myself processing and coming to terms.
A poem by John Updike in the New Yorker brought to mind how we adapt to trauma by putting words on paper. When my dog was dying, poems poured out of me – there wasn’t any other way to express my pain. And I think about my friends who write humor – contained within are universal truths, made palatable by their satire.
Updike’s poem is about a death sentence; and yet he is freed by his words. How do you feel about baring your soul? Is it freeing or frightening?
December 22, 2008
All praise be Valium in Jesus’ name;
a CAT-scan needle biopsy sent me
up a happy cul-de-sac, a detour not
detached from consciousness but sweetly part—
I heard machines and experts murmuring about me—
a dulcet tube in which I lay secure and warm
and thought creative thoughts, intensely so,
as in my fading prime. Plans flowered, dreams.
All would be well, I felt, all manner of thing.
The needle, carefully worked, was in me, beyond pain,
aimed at an adrenal gland. I had not hoped
to find, in this bright place, so solvent a piece.
Days later, the results came, casually through:
the gland, biopsied, showed metastasis.
Rest in piece, sir. January 28, 2009