An Exaltation of Particulars

My prescription glasses are made for a near-sighted woman, but for most of my life I have taken a long view, “seen” sweeping possibilities, open-ended choices, many right answers to a question.

So when a teacher or colleague told me I was being too general, too vague, the only response I could figure out was to name, elaborate, and catalogue the details.

This may have helped move a project along in the moment, but failed to solve my dilemma, which, I came to understand, was not so much a failure to see the details as a contempt for them.

The contempt was a shell covering fear – as a child it was much safer to avert my eyes from what was going on around me.

It was when I began to celebrate the details, a journey helped along by playing with images, in collage, and in poetry, that a new level of healing unfolded.

An exaltation of particulars

by Sara Eisenberg

You will not find me in a long silky skirt,

covered buttons to the throat,

hair piled gracefully on my head,

held in place with a carved horn

butterfly…the look of my maternal

grandmother Fanny in the one

surviving photograph.

These are not my mother’s dress-up pearls.

These are not Kali’s trophy skulls clad

in space, held in

the womb of time.

I stand on my own particulars,

pants loose at the waist,

jasmine tea fragrant in a small cup adorned

with rabbits dancing by moonlight,

sleepless nights an ally now,

and truths spoken haltingly but

spoken.

I lay up my treasures as working riches,

refuse to become a museum,

though I offer you these observations.

Visit again and again and the curator will offer a different gloss.

If you like, unstring these small transparencies,

fling them up into the sky:

their lights will arrange themselves for you,

constellations,

sky stories,

draw you back into your own.

Birthday Gift

The anxiety of being human runs through our soul, fiber, bone and blood, attending both the existential anxiety of death, and the more personal anxiety that rides on it, schooled even from the womb by our mothers’ mood and stress, and by the ways our infant bodies sense the ever-changing shapes and forms of our immediate surroundings.

But we are also birthed into, of, and held by the larger rhythms of the natural world, which is utterly without anxiety:

human nature, Mother Nature, inseparable.

 

birthday gift

by Sara Eisenberg

Tendrils of intelligent vitality
creep in at every pore,
embed me,
another green being in a sea
of sentient Ones.

I conspire with
plain-speaking pine,
cicadas courting with their forewings,
while the landscape whispers
in myriad tongues,
“There is no longer
in your face
the anxiety of being human.”

Summer Morning Arrythmia

The texture, color and mood of our lives is often set below the level of daily awareness.

A succession of grey days, cold and damp. Or sunny, hot and humid.  Weather that invites us outside or draws us indoors for a warming drink and fuzzy slippers, invites longer hours of activity or of rest.

And we each respond to these shifts of temperature, light, moisture, the movement of air, in our unique ways.

Gusty winds of late winter and early fall challenge me. An hour of weeding on a sunny mild day can nourish me for a week.

Still, in the midst of summer, activity can also increase my restlessness, upset my rhythm, and lead me to seek out a winter moment. All the more so if I have not had my fill of quiet and rest during the cold months.

Summer morning arrhythmia

by Sara Eisenberg

a persistent garden fly nips at my bare legs.

i have more sympathy for him than usual,

i cannot seem to land, swat myself from one

temporary landing to the next,

come and go amidst summer clamor,

a fruit out of season,

pining for the winter spruce

of lower-case

calm.

A Virtuous Woman Weary

“I’m sick and tired of ____ !” 

This phrase sounds to me now like dialogue from a bad sitcom.

But there were years, decades, when I spoke them regularly as a reaction to the demands life made on me.

I thought I expected a lot of myself.

In truth, I expected more of life – of family, friends, colleagues than of myself.

With large applications of honesty and kindness, and with ample healing support, I began to perceive, acknowledge, and take responsibility for behaviors and consequences.

That is when a true and life-giving weariness set in.

a virtuous woman weary of her trade

by Sara Eisenberg

weary of:

lying down

in the bed I’ve made

lying still

unable to exhale

lying by

appearance

omission

commission

lying to

shore up

look good

avoid trouble

lying in

the interest of

equivocation

prudence

a finely rendered manual of evasive tactics

whose spine shows signs of wear,

whose pages are smudged with thumbing.

ships free.