By Sharon Scholl
Years ago it was young Father Brown old Bishop O’Leary priests at the raw edge of faith with eyes that were too innocent or too full of suffering. Emissaries from that ancient certainty of heaven with rites in secret language chanted to secure safety from the nether regions. Their bedside visit would obtain confession of matters better left unsaid, or hang the tatters of an old regret to rattle in a fading breath. The new doulas come with songs, consolation to kindle the remains of memory. Their comfort is the certainty that life is meaningful despite whatever hapless horror, suspect victory or longings unfulfilled define it. They demand no penance, give no promises. They reconstruct the sounds and smells of sentiment, fragments of old joys, caresses lost with childhood. They come to weave the scattered tunes of lifetimes into settled harmony, a consonance that makes the cadence of a long song bearable.
Writers receive them blank, unlined, like snow that dares us to mar its pristine surface. They suggest we dash our poems off in the white heat of inspiration instead of hacking them out in fits and starts with cross-outs, inserts, spaces where invention fails. Should we leave evidence of so many second thoughts, indecisions, hesitations, grammatical indecencies? Wisdom suggests we’re not bad off scribbling on scraps, the backs of grocery bills or envelopes, whatever’s handy, easily tossed.
Swallowed by Van Gogh*
*touring exhibit of paintings by projection
Is the Starry Night more starry splayed on walls and ceiling of an art museum? Am I closer to him here standing in the raging guts of a sun flower? I’m plunged into the fields of Arles bobbing on a tempest of corn stalks, a field of yellow piercing my eyes. It’s vertigo end to end from one pillaged painting to another magnified beyond my sense of balance. An iris nightmare swaddles me in blue. His straw chair seat threatens like a weapon. His painted door offers no escape.
Sharon Scholl is a retired college professor (humanities) who convenes a poetry critique group and maintains a website of original music (freeprintmusic.com) for small liberal churches. Her poetry chapbooks (Seasons, Remains) are available via Amazon Books. Individual poems are current in The Big Windows and Vita Poetica.