Friday, March 20, 2009

Poetry Friday: Stranger than we can think

I can't help it.

I'm a melancholic. An INFJ. Embarrassing proof that I'm melancholic and INFJ is that I have actually taken tests to label myself as such.

Other embarrassing proof is the poetry to which I'm drawn. Often it is about the impossibility of life, the stumbling and falls, the hidden corners of our psyches where we struggle with contradictions and fear.

One of the reasons I am so drawn to my Catholic faith is that it is full of impossibilities, signs of contradiction, and acknowledgments of those hidden corners, and yet it offers an impossible, glorious remedy that became the only Possibility that makes sense. And, while life still sometimes feels absurd, it makes absurdly rational sense, too.

Once, long ago, I wrote this quote from Virginia Woolf in my journal, and I meant it as a serious question:

"Why is life so tragic, so like a little strip of pavement over an abyss? I look down; I feel giddy; I wonder how I am ever to walk to the end."

Now I know how I will walk to the end.

Poem on a Line by Anne Sexton, 'We are All Writing God's Poem'

by Barbara Crooker

Today, the sky's the soft blue of a work shirt washed
a thousand times. The journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step. On the interstate listening
to NPR, I heard a Hubble scientist
say, "The universe is not only stranger than we
think, it's stranger than we can think." I think
I've driven into spring, as the woods revive
with a loud shout, redbud trees, their gaudy
scarves flung over bark's bare limbs. Barely doing
sixty, I pass a tractor trailer called Glory Bound,
and aren't we just? Just yesterday,
I read Li Po: "There is no end of things
in the heart," but it seems like things
are always ending—vacation or childhood,
relationships, stores going out of business,
like the one that sold jeans that really fit—

(read the rest here, at Writer's Almanac, and if you follow it daily, I'm sorry for having spoiled tomorrow's poem for you.)

More from Barbara Crooker here.

Elaine is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up at Wild Rose Reader.


Temperament tests:

Your medieval Personality Type

Very short quiz

A longish Myers-Brigg quiz

A book I like: The Temperament God Gave You: The Classic Key to Knowing Yourself, Getting Along with Others, and Growing Closer to the Lord


Skysaw said...

Karen, while the Myers-Briggs is wacky, temperaments are traditional and cool as long as not misused. I didn't know there was a test you could take to figure out your temperament! Could you direct me to where I could take such a test?

jama said...

I'd label myself melancholic too, but I'm drawn to just the opposite -- poems that lift my spirit and take me out of myself.

Lovely poem, loads of great images and insights. Thanks!

Karen Edmisten said...

Skysaw, I just added a couple links to the post.

Jama, I think that's what we melancholics have to do -- seek out the uplifting and joyful things, lest we get too caught up in the other side, and, yes, get too caught up in self.

Anonymous said...

Loved this poem. Was interested in your comments about your Catholic faith helping you understand the hidden corners of your mind. My faith is also my cornerstone by I'm struggling at the moment with how to deal with those dark corners, my shadow some would call it. Do I embrace or ignore, or a combination of the two.

Anonymous said...

Karen E - your comments over at my blog were just what the soul doctor ordered. Thanks, Jacqueline.

Karen Edmisten said...

What a lovely thing to say. Thank you.