Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Black Cat/ Nobody's Woman

As my dear friend Hedgewitch sometimes does, I have decided to post both the original, much different version of this poem, and then follow it with the reworked and final version. 

 THE BLACK CAT

I asked the black cat
and the black cat told me true
how the half moon cracked the window's edge
and how it was, with you.

Tea in the painted cup
frost upon the mat
never let the half moon in
or listen to a cat.
_______

 NOBODY'S WOMAN

I am nobody's woman.
I dreamt that I knelt at night to the water's edge,
A falling leaf to the dark-eyed deep;
A girl again,
Running her hand through the blue future.

I woke, and got up,
Wrapping myself in the wings of a million dark birds.
Who was there, after all,
To kiss the color of the cardinal
Onto my skin like brightness to a candle?

I am nobody's woman,
And because rain has warped the gate,
I cannot close it;
I cannot stop the stars from wheeling,
Nor my tears from wandering out among them.

In the night,
Risen from sleep as from a bath gone to chill,
I make muffins in my tiny kitchen
For the comfort of their aroma
And to try to lure the moon to my open window.
I long to lay my head easy
Where curve meets silence
And die there, content.

My pride is hurt, and I realize how I must seem,
When only a black tom
Seeks the yellow light and its sill stained with blackberries;
He knows I wanted a woman,
Like calling like,
But he is kind enough not to call me ridiculous.
Here I am, no longer young,
But still filled with the same sharp need...
I am a rain of useless poems--
I am the sand, with the tide receding--
I am nobody's woman.
_____ 

33 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

powerful stuff, shay.

haikulovesongs said...

LOVE the first poem!

the second left me speechless...

stunning in true Shay-style!

Marion said...

Shay, both of these works of art take my breath away. They're masterpieces, some of your best work yet. (I say that often, but you just keep outdoing yourself!) Thank you for sharing your beautiful poet-heart with us. xo

Marian said...

oh, a rain of useless poems. SIGH.

Daryl Edelstein said...

not sure which I like more .. lets call it a tie ... or we can call it a hat .. whichever works .. loved them both

hedgewitch said...

These two poems are so different, and yet I see the way one seeds itself out in the other--while each is perfect in itself. The first just crackles with dark energy, short and crisp and sing- song forlorn. The second is like a larger canvas based on a few strokes of pencil, infinitely more detailed and rich in its treatment of the subject, and perhaps that makes it my favorite, with lines like those in the first and second stanzas(I was going to quote, till I saw I'd have to do all of them) and the increasing tension of yearning that builds to the last evocative lines coming full circle. But 'rain of useless poems,' no...I think they rain with total purpose on us all.

ellen abbott said...

No way these are the same poem. I really like the first.

Kerry O'Connor said...

This proves a point I have long held about the business of writing - never discard a single thing you have written. It was wonderful how your original two verses gave rise to the evolved version. The emotion of the second piece is tangible.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

I liked this technique: post a wonderful poem, then post an even better version of it.

There is such longing, such a razor loneliness, and the tom knows that. He's no better, nor am I or for that matter, anyone who reads and truly feels this.

Seriously wish I had your talent. Your pal, Mosk

Lynn said...

Wow - two poems! Glorious.

Helen said...

Writing, editing, rewriting ... you manage to come up with gem after gem. I read both poems several times until I could clearly see how one became the other!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love them both in very different ways. The first crisps and crackles, as Hedgie said. But the loneliness of the second poem is breathtaking. The woman baking muffins in her kitchen at night for comfort. I so resonate with this poem, no longer young but still with the same needs and yearnings and young heart. Your "rain of useless poems" is a brilliant phrase, but I reared up rejecting the line as your poems are pure gifts to those of us who read them, and admire your brilliance in pure wonder.

Laurie Kolp said...

You never cease to amaze me. I adore the first one and the second poem... all I can say is that it's so beautiful, sensuous. I especially like the second stanza.

Kim Nelson said...

That first poem was a treat to read, the second was a heart-wrencher. To feel no connection... you created that perfectly. You made me feel it.

wkkortas said...

The use of repetition in this piece is judicious and effective, in the right place at the right time. Well-built, valedictory and with just the right amount of emotion

HermanTurnip said...

"Tea in the painted cup
frost upon the mat
never let the half moon in
or listen to a cat."

Awesome. Add another one to the list of "must get this tattooed on my body someday".

Susie Clevenger said...

The first poem led into the second superbly...I love them both. I must say you are not a rain of useless poems :) I do feel that way at times though.

razzamadazzle said...

They are both beautiful. You are such an amazing poet.

Mary said...

If you did not say that the first poem was the 'root' of the second poem, I never would have known. There is such a deep sadness in the second poem, and in ways I can identify. You certainly do not write a 'rain of useless poems.'

Semaphore said...

I have to say that I liked both poems very much. To me, each stands on its own quite strongly; there is no real interdependency of the two other than from the perspective of the writer.

Dianne said...

amazing process
I love them both

Mama Zen said...

Girl, that is freaking amazing!

Mystic_Mom said...

You have done it again...wow. This is just so amazing. I'm at a loss for words to express how much I am moved by these poems.

Hannah Stephenson said...

So interesting to see the combination of these!

There is a lot in both of them, regardless of their lengths...I love seeing your poetic alchemy.

Margaret said...

Here I am, no longer young,
But still filled with the same sharp need...
I am a rain of useless poems--
I am the sand, with the tide receding--


...my favorite time to walk on the beach for the beauty and treasure left behind snuggled in the sand.

I love brevity in poetry (like your first) and one that packs a punch

and the second is soft and full of longing (love the muffins in the night) and yearning.

I have to agree with Kerry.... never throw anything out... Both are awesoeme, Shay.

Hannah said...

I dreamt that I knelt at night to the water's edge,
A falling leaf to the dark-eyed deep;
A girl again,
Running her hand through the blue future.


I just love this and the bit about the cardinal, too! Such unique and beautiful expression.

Kay L. Davies said...

These are both wonderful. Sherry always says what I want to say, must be our parallel upbringings mere blocks from one another.
I love the first poem, no doubt about it, "never let the half moon in or listen to a cat" is just priceless, but there is so much in the second to speak to the heart of a woman. Those of us who are old (and of course I'm not speaking for Sherry here) never believe it in our hearts. I remember one of my great-aunts telling me, in her 90s, that she still felt young inside.
Thanks for these, Shay. You are wonderful.
K

Lydia said...

Oh, Shay, this is marvelous. I was glad to be introduced to the black cat in the first poem, although that is certainly not necessary to feel so strongly the second one. It breaks my heart for you. And for me. I am someone's woman, but feel so alone so much of the time. I think your poem will be meaningful to more women than you can even imagine.

Lolamouse said...

Wowzers! Hard to believe that the first poem gave birth to the second. They're so different in tone. I love them both. The first is kinda sassy, and the second is heartbreaking.

Fireblossom said...

Thank you, everyone, for the wonderful comments.

Shawna said...

This is amazing, bleeding emotion and longing. These are particularly apt descriptions of pain:

"I cannot stop the stars from wheeling,
Nor my tears from wandering out among them"

"I long to lay my head easy
Where curve meets silence
And die there, content"

"But still filled with the same sharp need...
I am a rain of useless poems--
I am the sand, with the tide receding--
I am nobody's woman."

Incredible work, Shay. I'm so thankful for your "useless poems."

~Shawna
rosemarymint.wordpress.com

Joanna Jenkins said...

Wow, wow, wow. Both are amazing, as always.
You blow me away.
xo jj

Sara said...

What a wonderful special to stumble on -- Two out of one:~) I loved them both. The first one I'm slightly partial to, but only because it's so much fun to read this one aloud.

The second one is like a painting in words. I can read it again and again and see something new. It makes me appreciate again you talent for painting such beautiful word pictures. You're never afraid to create imagery that STICKS. For example, "Wrapping myself in the wings of million dark birds." Oh, that's powerful, Shay.