dVerse Poetics – Song of Songs

This week in Poetics over at the dVerse Poets Pub, we are asked by our genial host Laura to step away from all that is distracting us, all that is bringing us down and be inspired by the poets whose thoughts turn to the mystical or spiritual. This is to mark Bhodi Day (8th December), when Siddharta Gautama achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha.

Please do hop over to dVerse, read the contributions and why not take part yourself?

Here is my offering, inspired by the line below:

My heart was split, and a flower appeared (Solomon)

I count them, not to accumulate the seeded wealth

but to honour your blessings, your beauty within.

For your lips are like the crimson thread

that connects each ruby-polished pearl nestled within

and I kiss them in awe, in delight, oh, in reverence.

My mouth lovingly caresses your shimmering jewels,

hesitant – and yet, and yet

I may not refrain from the glories within.

I am entranced by you, your eyes, your brow, your radiant skin,

your covering cannot shroud you, cannot conceal you from my gaze

I have split you open and your beauty is mine.

613 – I count them.

They are yours – and maybe, one day, mine.

This poem is also inspired by an extract from Song of Songs, which is also known as the Song of Solomon. In Jewish tradition, pomegranates are seen as a symbol of fertility and love (“Your lips are like a crimson thread; your mouth is lovely. Your brow behind your veil [gleams] like a pomegranate split open”). They are also associated with the 613 mitzvot (commandments), because they are said to have 613 seeds (in reality they don’t, sadly!).

Troughs and peaks

Much like last week, this week has been a week of interrupted creativity on the editing front. I had a bit of a hissy fit about it on Tuesday when I realised that no editing was going to happen in the usual way that I had been used to, because quite frankly, my brain was mush. And then I felt frustrated, a little melancholy and childishly, hated everyone who had more free time than I did. I also compared myself to anyone else whose writing journey was apparently going swimmingly and of course, found myself severely lacking.

A word to the not-so-wise. Don’t compare yourself to others. It rarely goes well. If everything is fine and dandy for you, you’re not going to give two hoots about anyone else. If your life is a big pile of crap, that’s when you look at other people’s lives and achievements and well, you know the rest.

Anyway… after my pity party for one (there were no streamers, party poppers, Prosecco or fresh out of the oven sausage rolls, it was pretty rubbish) , I took myself to the naughty step and decided I had to dig myself out of this hole. On Wednesday evening I reached out (I normally hate that phrase, but it’s appropriate here) to my writer friends on Instagram with the following question:

I anticipated a few responses. I was wrong. I had so many, in the context of my ‘reach’. So very many of us are struggling with this. So few of us ever say it. I guess that’s the downside of social media, no matter which one you choose – YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, Twitch, all the other ones I know nothing about because I’m too old – there’s this apparent urge to just show ourselves in the most positive way, living our best lives (as the people younger than me like to say). It’s a façade, and an exhausting one.

Life. Is. Tough. (Especially now, for a myriad of reasons top of which is the pandemic of course). In the grand scheme of things, feeling over-worked, or just more worked than you would like in an ideal world, is an OK problem to have. But it affects your mental health far more than necessary, unless you share your difficulties with other people. It certainly helped me. Now, I’m not glad that other people are struggling, but I am glad that we could support each other, even just via a few messages, and know that each of us is not alone. It helped me – I even got down to some editing on Friday evening and followed up with two more stints on Saturday and a further one this morning. I’m back where I had hoped to be. If I hadn’t shared my struggle on Instagram, I might still be writhing in my own self-made pit of despair.

Outside of writerly commentary, there is a simple truth. All around the world there are people who are struggling. We are united in our humanity. That’s all we need to know.