An Answer to Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”, by Debi Swim

An Answer to Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”
by Debi Swim

Birth is not a continuation, not
a pre-existence of pure light and love.
We did not dance with the angels. Heaven
wasn’t our first abode, but a woman’s womb.
The elements of man and woman met
and mixed and grew in that primeval stage
where the soul and matter become new
then in time pushed into the world without.
And what’s seen are but shadows on a wall
intimating a greater glory, story,
and that is the miracle of our birth –
the acknowledgement there is more beyond
this poorly lighted cave and a hand that
shapes the shadows confirming something more.
And birth begets our immortality.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 231.

Process notes: If you believe in God you have a concept, whether accurate or not, of who and what God is and what your relationship to God is. As a child I picked up the thought that babies came directly from heaven. I no longer believe that we have always existed but that each child is a new and unique being. And if the theology I have been taught is right then birth begets immortality. I do believe, as Wordsworth says, there are “clouds of glory” to be seen in nature, and though they obscure the whole picture, they do reveal a portion of what’s beyond.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

Reign Over Me, by Debi Swim

Reign Over Me
by Debi Swim

I’ve a thirst and a hunger,
that scratches my throat
in sandy abrasions and a claw
in my stomach tearing and
whumping at its emptiness.
I want to be filled, sated,
gorged, glutted, quenched,
nourished like a calf at the teat,
like tree roots by the river,
like sails billowing with wind.
Life is just not enough, to live
and to die and to never touch
the supernal, to become nil.
Laugh if you will, sneer at my
simplicity; pity my pining
for God, for the true mythology
of the Holiness.

I’ve a yearning and if you’re alive
you’ve a yearning, too, the soul
within craving to connect with the
soul of the Otherness, the Mysterious.
That’s why we are drawn to the sea,
drawn to the stars, drawn
to things vaster than we.

 
Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 223.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

Hound’s Tooth Sharp, by Debi Swim

Hound’s Tooth Sharp
by Debi Swim

Remember that jacket you wore?
Black and white hound’s tooth,
wool blend paired with a straight
skirt, hem just at the knee – sleek,
sophisticated. It said I am somebody
look at me, look at me.
I admired you. You were the prettiest
Mom of anyone outside of TV I knew.
But, you always pushed me aside in
your affections. I was the oldest, gawky,
plain – I think I reminded you too
much of a rocky marriage. I was a pawn,
tug of war, with his parents. Unfortunate
for me, even after Daddy died.

The pattern of our relationship
is hound’s tooth sharp.
Seems there is always a bite
behind the smile. I wait for the nip.
It’s made me gun shy, careful,
getting just so close, but no closer.
The irony is that now you want
to love me and me to love you. You want
that relationship my daughters
and I have. I’m sorry we can’t be closer,
but I can’t break through this pattern.
Black and white checks hound me.
I do love you but not wholly.
I love you carefully, reservedly. I stay
safely in the margins of the pattern.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 221.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

Life Quest, by Debi Swim

Life Quest
by Debi Swim

I’m in that in-between stage
of middle-aged and Old but not
as dirt, nor elderly, but definitely
senior. I’ve given up on dyeing
my hair and wearing three inch
heels or really any heels just a
wedge but always sensible shoes.
I’m at that age where there’s more
time behind than in front and more
of me than there used to be and most
of it crinkly but on the positive side
I wonder more, am less cocksure,
stance more grey than black and white
It doesn’t matter near as much
what I want to be when I grow up.
There’s aches and pains in all my joints
and a drunk controlling my gait.
But, I’ve lived, overcome, survived,
thrived, trusted, loved, birthed, laid
to rest… been human, abided, steady
to the end and have what I always wanted-
growing old with someone just like you.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 220

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

Black, by Debi Swim

Black
by Debi Swim

I’m writing an ode to black
misunderstood, abused, lack
of frivolity, sober, tacked
onto the back of despair. Unfair.
Black has depth and richness
mystery and glamor within us
making red redder, enhancing,
entrancing, like the ebony sheen
of the raven, the placid shade
between I lay me down and sleep
counting dark sheep with a tender
heart all part of twilight and surrender.
It is a contender for favorite color–
hats, cats, licorice, espresso, Van Gogh’s
background that pop the poppies
no melancholy in their enthusiasm.
All praise to the black dark chocolate
sweet, confident, sassy, bold. A chasm
of ebony, sable, inky, pitch, coal.
When truth is told, before
creation all was black, now
everything is stitched at the seams
with black… is beautiful.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 219.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

How Does It Feel?, by Debi Swim

How Does It Feel?
by Debi Swim

When death is summoned to do his duty
is he emotionless and unyielding
even as he bends over a child’s bed
or a man pleading at his wife’s side?
Are there ever times he drags his feet,
hunches his shoulders, tries not to weep
when coming to the scene of a burnt home
or wretched twisted metal on the highway?
Does he know some sacred secret that
eases his conscience, lightens his load?
Is he a reaper grimly scything the wheat,
harvesting souls for a fiendish yield
of banshee screams and sorrow’s tears?
Do wars, nature’s wrath, and terrorist
random pickings just fill his inbox with more to do?
Maybe he is just content with his job security
on a planet where life is so little valued.
But, I hope when he comes for me
he shows a little compassion.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 217.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

Gender Wars No More, by Debi Swim

Gender Wars No More
by Debi Swim

What if I’m not what I’ve been taught
a bookend to prop-up, balance, support,
a half that fits perfectly another half,
Eve, made just for Adam who came first,
an afterthought, a helpmeet, a second
fiddle to harmonize? Maybe that’s not
what God had in mind but man deducing
from man’s point of view.

What if I was meant to be a whole, not half,
a single stand of woolen yarn, full of its
own strength and color? And what if you
too were meant to be a whole? Two twin
buildings standing tall, two thick oaks facing
the storm, two strands of woolen yarn
twined, strength doubled, against the fray,
yet strong alone if that’s meant to be.

A warrior woman. A warrior man. Defending
each other back to back, a sword in one hand
a shield in the other. And even if one is lost
a whole remains.

Note: Thoughts after reading “Love Warrior, A Memoir” by Glennon Doyle Melton. By way of response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 211.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

What I Leave Behind, by Debi Swim

What I Leave Behind
by Debi Swim

Maybe it was the mist rolling
low over the fresh mown field
obscuring fine details of day,
pressing a cool hand against the
brow of an Indian summer.
Or maybe it was just the faded
colors and imminent coming of
winter that awakened the sadness.
And yet, not really sadness, I think,
but a kind of surrender, a concession,
to the pattern of life, beginnings and endings.

The seasons come and go, come and go,
each with a story to tell, a work to do.
And the earth remains, though I will not.
Maybe this is my abiding work, to tell my story
in prose and poem and memory.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 210.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

What The Heart Knows, by Debi Swim

What The Heart Knows
by Debi Swim

When you can look at the star-splattered sky and watch the phases of the moon… hear thunder growl a warning, then bay a rumbling attack… when lightning zags in fiery tongues of sizzle and illumines streaks of rain… when fireflies on a warm June evening flash their serenade silently… when a smile, a touch, a kiss… when the taste of a strawberry, the scent of a rose… when these things and a hundred others no longer touch your soul with their bewitching magic, their humbling strangeness as miraculous hallowing… Then. Then, the heart knows you are a wraith half dead.

Snow lights on my nose
the faintest tickle I feel
life is tender sweet.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 208.

 

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

How Can I Survive This, by Debi Swim

How Can I Survive This
by Debi Swim

tsunami of pain
like a refrain
on continuous play
it flays
me raw
I draw
a ragged breath
at the slow death
of hope
how will I cope?
I simply will.
Still,
it will leave a mark
a dark
bruise.
Dues
paid.
I limp through life.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 204.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.