Monday, June 14, 2010

The Complexity of Compassion (Poem)

The Complexity of Compassion
for my father

When you are old,
re-spin me your beginnings

from their Greek and Irish
coordinates, unplot straight lines

of ancient made-up histories,
upend the stakes of claims in bindings

of your mother's mother's mother's womb
cut and spilling life unto life into care.

When you are grey,
recall me to the look of the father

for his daughters not your sons, loose
your pock-marked map we carried fixed

into our futures, cardinal points worn
dim but steadfast ever in their tending to

of place, where time's and the body's limits
join the suffering together and to death.

When you are old and grey
and full of sleep, speak to me no more

of forgiveness, obedience, and joy.
It is enough, a simple laying on of hands.

© 2010 Maureen E. Doallas. All Rights Reserved.

I wrote this poem for the Tuesday, June 15, Blog Carnival sponsored by Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time and Peter Pollock of Rediscovering the Church.

The Blog Carnival is a biweekly online event open to anyone. Participants write on a one-word prompt or topic. This week's is "compassion".

At Bridget's place you'll find a list of links to all of the contributions, which are posted throughout Tuesday and often through to the end of the week.

The Blog Carnival's FaceBook page is here.

The prompt for the next Blog Carnival, on June 29, is "strength".

I also wrote this poem for Carry on Tuesday, which each week provides a prompt that participants are to use wholly or partly in an original poem or prose piece.

The prompt for Tuesday, June 15, comes from the opening lines of a William Butler Yeats' poem "When Your Are Old": When you are old and grey and full of sleep.

To read other Carry on Tuesday contributors' poems or prose for Prompt #57, go here.


Glynn said...

Beautiful poem, Maureen, with a depth of feeling and understanding that's almost astonishing.

Kelly Sauer said...

breathtaking beautiful. I want to keep this somehow...

Anonymous said...

Very beautiful...I love " me your beginnings... !! this is a litany, very meditative and prayerful. The repetitions beautiful and the way you build to the Yeats line as well. I get the sense of someone spilling the past from his lips like breath. l We all yearn to hear our histories spoken of, for missing information. This would almost lend itself to a cycle of some kind-- maybe a series of derivations using Yeats lines. I'd like to see you post it on SW if you haven't...xxj BTW I've survived your interview questions and will be sending things to you in next few days: terrific. :)

jen said...

why am I anonymous-- it is I. j

Jenne' R. Andrews said...

testing google account test test

S. Etole said...

Your writing goes straight to the heart ...

Marcus Goodyear said...

Maureen, another good one. I especially liked

"loose/ your pock-marked map we carried fixed/ into our futures, cardinal points worn/ dim"

L.L. Barkat said...

"it is enough, a simple laying on of hands."

That's the part where I audibly murmured. Yes, there's a murmur in that.

Anonymous said...

famaliar blue
green grey
of words

Changnoi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stan Ski said...

A very poignant, well written piece.

sarah said...

ah, when I first read it I thought it reminded me of the Yeats poem, then I saw your notes :-)

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

A striking poem, Maureen. I love the re-spinning of beginnings and the pock-marked maps carried into futures. Every reading and rereading (and there have been several on my part, out loud to enjoy its lovely rhythm) brings out new meanings.

I have found your beautiful blog somewhat by chance, on a search for Natalie Merchant videos. I am signing up to follow and look forward to further compassionate explorations here. Hello from Spain ...

Ami Mattison said...

Maureen, your poems never fail to both delight me and make me think. This is wonderful, beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing!

Louise Gallagher said...

The beauty and authenticity of your poetry transports me.

Thank you for lighting up my world with your words.

katdish said...

When I first read this, I was without words. Still am, actually. Except this one: beautiful. Thank you.

Scott Couchenour said...

I am better for having read this today. Thank you.

Monica Sharman said...

All that renewal of things supposedly fixed. Nice.

And this especially:

"from their Greek and Irish
coordinates, unplot straight lines"

THAT was powerful.

Unknown said...

Simply Beautiful....

One Photo said...

Beautiful poem.

Sandra Heska King said...

So many lines I love. Geometry of life. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful picture of compassion in these words, Maureen. Thank you!