Friday, August 19, 2016

NAMESLAKE


We floated like mermaids in the hot springs 
and talked about the process of writing. 
Funny, how names arise. She said, Billy Collins. 
How his voice inhabited hers.
Don't we all take on the mantle 
every time we write?

Susan is shuddering because we are writing 
in the chapel. She perceives all the crosses 
as something evil and sinister, 
whereas I see how the Carmelite nuns 
revered this place as much as they did their religion.
But failing, they saw the light opened their doors, 
those wimpled recluses who sought the light of God.

I am drawn to the past where my namesake, 
María Concepción de Arguello retreated 
to a beach in Carmel, to commune with God, 
rather than marry. Her first love, Count Rezanov, 
who died of a fall from his horse,  
he never came back 
and she waited ten years for his return.

Did she find him in the ashes of the past? 
And the cloistered rooms, where other nuns 
came to join her, first in Carmel, then in Benecia.
Why am I telling you this story of Conchita?
Because of the one who got away?
Because sometimes the only honorable way 
is to retreat from the world.











What do you do, when the one you love 
holds words to his breasts, suckles them, 
strokes them, until they become hardened—
as if that were a way out.

My mother tried that more than once.
The dynamics of certain words:
faith, love, suicide, evoke visceral reactions.
Why can't he see that? 
Just the other day he said he was ready 
for his exit strategy, then he stayed out late. 
No phone call, no way to reach him,
the bridge with its red thighs and amber necklaces, 


Ellen Bass workshop
8/19/2016






How we floated in the hot springs 
and talked about the process of writing. 
Funny, how names arise. Billy Collins. 
I have been reading for school 
and she said his voice inhabited hers.
Don't we all take on the mantle 
every time we write ?

Susan is shuddering because we are writing 
in the chapel. She can only perceive her horror 
of crosses as something evil and sinister, 
whereas I see how the Carmelite nuns 
revered this place is much as they did their religion.
But failing, they saw the light opens their doors, 
those wimpled recluses who sought he light of God.

I am drawn to the past where my namesake, 
María Concepción de Arguello retreated 
to a beach in Carmel, to commune with God, 
rather than marry. Her first love, Count Rezanov
who died from a fall from his horse, 
never came back and she waited ten years for his return.

Did she find him in the ashes of the past? 
And the cloistered rooms, where other nuns 
came to join her, first in Carmel, then in Benecia.
Why am I telling you this story of Conchita?
Because of the one who got away?
Because sometimes the only honorable way 
is to retreat from the world.

What do you do, when the one you love 
holds words to his breasts, suckles them, 
strokes them, until they become hardened—
as if that were a way out.

My mother tried that more than once.
The dynamics of certain words:
faith, love, suicide, evoke visceral reactions.
Why can't he see that? 
Just the other day he said he was ready 
for his exit strategy, then he stayed out late. 
No phone call, no way to reach him,
the bridge with its red thighs and amber necklaces, 
shrouded in fog the buoys moaning.
While he lifted another pint to his lips, 
at that no-name bar, my mother's old haunt. 
Waiting for open mic. Business as usual. 
The show must go on.

What is my role in all this?
My complicity in it? 
Did I seek out my mother?
After all the things which I most dread, 
I have become, has become me.

Ellen Bass workshop
8/19/2016

No comments: