Shadow – a poem

I realize this poem may feel a little dark and despairing. I’m hoping the paradoxical sense of transcendence will come across as well.

Shadow

A blank philosophy
filling the wounded spots
shields her invisible threads
with so many mysterious whispers.

From the unseen to the known,
a path is carved
in pure uncertainties.
Hunger
echoes the hollow.

The bottomless pit,
appendage of my father,
rolls out a black carpet
of useless, toiling ways.

If I told you how the wind,
in deep, encrusted caves,
moves in reeking stutters,
obliterates the culmination of
years of brave defiance,
would you see
with eyes of sorrow,
or hear
a voice of shame?

The shadow creeps relentlessly
and I,
in tangled weathers,
engulf the dark that snares me.

 

Copyright © 1992 Marian Buchanan

The Children in Jesse’s Dream Skirt – Part 3

Joining in (or not)

Jesse tells his dreamThis is a continuation of the exploration of the differences between the two versions of the children’s story, Jesse’s Dream Skirt. I’ve covered the daycare children’s initial reactions and then the group discussion initiated by the teacher. Now let’s find out what happens next.

In both versions, the discussion ends on a note that makes Jesse feel better. In the magazine version, after Sarah calls him brave, he looks around and sees “everyone smiling.” It’s not a realistic scenario, since it would likely take more than what Sarah said to convert the naysayers in the group. In the book version, though, the discussion ends with “so many of the children” talking at once that Jesse can’t tell who’s saying what, but everything he hears is positive.

In both versions, it’s at this point that he tells the children about his dream and how he and his mother made the skirt.

In the magazine version, the teacher then reminisces about Continue reading

The Children in Jesse’s Dream Skirt – Part 2

Why does it matter to them that Jesse’s wearing a skirt?

This is a continuation of the exploration started in the earlier posts in this series, and particularly the previous one about the daycare children in the Jesse’s Dream Skirt story. I mentioned there were several differences between the two versions of the story, relating to one or more of the following: Continue reading

The Children in Jesse’s Dream Skirt

Overview, First Reactions, and the Dynamics of Shaming

I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that there are differences between the two versions of the story Jesse’s Dream Skirt. I’ve already covered the differences in the way the mother is portrayed. Now it’s time to look at the two different versions of the children and how they react to Jesse wearing a skirt to daycare. This will take several posts, but let me first give you an overview.

Jesse's Dream Skirt illustration by Marian Buchanana - the children talking

Continue reading

Jesse’s Mother – two ways of parenting a gender-non-conforming child

Jesse tries on his mother's dressIn the children’s story Jesse’s Dream Skirt, the main character is a little boy who likes to wear skirts and dresses – in other words, clothes that the society he lives in considers to be appropriate only for girls.

We can leave for another time the debate about where such an idea comes from and how arbitrary it is. For now, I just want to look briefly at the issue of how a parent can be supportive of a child whom some would call a “pink boy” — a boy who is “gender non-conforming.” Continue reading

Voice of Andrea

Background notes on this poem:

  • I knew Andrea Currie through yoga, when I lived in Halifax in the early-mid-1980’s. She joined the a capella group Four The Moment while I was still there, and I loved her singing voice as much as her soft speaking voice and gentle manner.
  • She once made and gave me a string of origami paper cranes, which, as I understand it, have been a Japanese symbol of longevity and became a symbol of peace after a little girl, victim of the Hiroshima nuclear bombing, took on the project of making as many paper cranes as she could before she died of cancer.
  • Voice of Women is a non-partisan Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) advocating for a world without war. They used to sell the poster I describe in the poem, and I hung my copy of it in the hallway where it could remind me every day to be hopeful that each and every little voice does make a difference.

Voice of Andrea

Only one more voice is needed to bring peace into the world. from Voice of Andrea, a poem by Marian Buchanan. copyright Marian Buchanan. MarianBuchanan.com

Through dusty glass pane
the branches outside my window
seem to bathe in smokey blue-grey.
They nod
in rhythm
to the heartbeat
of the wind,
sweep the illusory thickness
like fingers trailing thoughtlessly through water.

A leaf becomes deliberate in its wobble,
strokes,
with licking motion,
the reflection
of my gently-spinning paper cranes.
Double panes against the cold
have multiplied the mobile into many ghosts,
potentialities in smokey limbo.
For every voice that speaks aloud
there are ten more whispers dawning.

On the wall in the hallway
a Voice-of-Women poster
tells the story
of the coalmouse asking
what is the weight of a snowflake.
“Nothing more than nothing”
says the dove in reply.
How then does a branch
break
under the fall
of one last crystal?
Only one more voice is needed
to bring peace into the world.

Outside my window
the branches nod.
I think of Andrea
folding pink paper into
origami messages of peace,
giving me this gift.

Andrea’s voice
is sweet and true when she sings.
Andrea’s voice
is gentle when she talks.
Soft like a whisper,
like a delicate miracle of water taking shape,
using harsh conditions of cold
to make
patterns of intricate beauty.

Copyright © Marian Buchanan, 1989