Poetic inspiration

Another week has slipped by without any posts. I miss this place. I have so many posts I want to write for you (for me, too). Soon… the end is in sight :)

For now, a poem sent to me by my (amazing) therapist. I am so working with the right woman.

My body is a wide house
a commune
of bickering women, hearing
their own breathing
denying each other.
Nearer the door
ready in black leather
is Vulnerable.  She lives in the hall
her face painted with care
her black boots reaching her crotch
her black hair shining
her skin milky and soft as butter.
If you should ring the doorbell
she would answer
and a wound would open across her eyes
as she touched your hand.
On the stairs, glossy and determined
is Mindful.  She’s the boss, handing out
punishments and rations and examination
papers with precise
justice.  She keeps her perceptions in a huge
album under her arm
her debts in the garden with the weedkill
friends in a card-index
on the windowsill of the sittingroom
and a tape-recording of the world
on earphones
which she plays to herself over and over
assessing her life
writing summaries.
In the kitchen is Commendable
The only lady in the house who
dresses in florals
she is always busy, always doing something
for someone she has
a lot of friends.  Her hands are quick and
cunning as blackbirds
her pantry is stuffed with loaves and fishes
she knows the times of trains and
mends fuses and makes
a lot of noise with the vacuum cleaner.
In her linen cupboard, new-ironed and neatly
folded, she keeps her resentments like
wedding presents – each week
takes them out for counting not to
lose any but would never think of
using any being a lady.
Upstairs in a white room
is my favourite.  She is Equivocal
has no flesh on her bones
that are changeable as yarrow stalks.
She hears her green plants talking
watches the bad dreams under the world
spends all her days and nights
arranging her symbols
never sleeps
never eats hamburgers
never lets anyone into her room
never asks for anything.
In the basement is Harmful
She is the keeper of weapons
the watchdog.  Keeps intruders at bay
but the others keep her
locked up in the daytime and when she escapes
she comes out screaming
smoke streaming from her nostrils
flames on her tongue
razor-blades for fingernails
skewers for eyes.
I am Imminent
live out in the street
watching them.  I lodge myself in other people’s
heads with a sleeping bag
strapped to my back.
One day I’ll perhaps get to like them enough
those rough, truthful women
to move in.  One by one
I’m making friends with them all
unobtrusively, slow and steady
slow and steady.

by Jeni Couzyn  1978
From Life by Drowning:  selected poems

15 responses
  1. kristen

    well then.

    you’ve no idea, (although i’m sure you do since you were the recipient of this poem), how much i needed to see this, read it, and now, write it down.

    it’s a very good way to check in with oneself, i think…xo

  2. Sherri B.

    What an incredible poem…the words are profound and empowering. Thank you for sharing! I will add that to my favorites. Your IG photo is beautiful, too – so soft and dreamy and comforting.

  3. Alexis Zinkerman

    Nice poem. Just wanted to tell you that I found a good therapist who I think I will enjoy working with.

  4. susannah

    Thank you, Sherri, it’s a Polaroid :) Going old school today xx

  5. susannah

    so happy to hear that, hon!

  6. Lauren Burkitt

    Thank you for sharing that with us. We all need a good little reminder sometimes, and this poem did a wonderful job of that. Beautiful picture as well. Smiles from Vancouver : )

  7. Lydia Kimble-wright

    I’ve met them all. I am them all. Thank you for posting this touching poem. I will surely keep it close. Blessings.

  8. Kathryn

    such a powerful poem with a beautiful message. thank you for sharing!
    I’m studying poetry as part of my diploma at the moment and I’m bookmarking this for a future assignment about imagery.

  9. Leigh

    What a beautiful poem. We all need the reminder from time to time. I will be writing that one in my journal for sure. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

  10. Parisa

    I really needed this! Thank you Susannah! and I love the photo! It gives me a sense of peace :)
    xo xo

  11. Ginger

    i think i might actually share this with my therapist!

  12. elizabeth

    it’s really okay to go without posting for a while when you leave such richness as this– the photo I LOVE (love!) and the poem, well .. . off to read more from this fab poet.

  13. jane

    holy bloody hell! i know these women. well.

  14. matt at shadow of iris

    I love this poem.

    These three lines really grabbed me:
    “… She is Equivocal
    has no flesh on her bones
    that are changeable as yarrow stalks.”

    Such an image.

  15. James Miller

    That is really a nice poetry. Thank you for the post.

Comments are closed.