Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Younger Woman

I want to be a younger woman in a former time,
working in a clock shop,
living upstairs with my nine-lived cat.

As a baby, I was dusted with shine from the moon,
refracted through my window at a different angle for every dream.
Mama said, dreams are nonsense
and life is mostly duty and a difficult business.

I want slender wrists and a silver watch;
hips as round as the bend in a river stream,
and my hat piled high with blooms and feathers.

Mama's half dead now, not remembering what she said five minutes ago.
I say, "Mama, look at the moon, changeless, ever the cool Mistress
of outward sky and inward seas."
At last, mama doesn't contradict me. She has forgotten how.

I want to be a younger woman in a former time,
wearing deep blue dresses flared at the shoulder and cinched at the waist,
with white lace at every edge.

"Pussycat," I will ask, in the night quiet above the clock shop,
"What do you suppose we were, when we were older?"
Her attention will stay on the skylight, and the moon beyond, 

as if there were no answer there;
or as if there were, and what foolish girl could fail to see it?
______

for Kerry's challenge at Real Toads: "Youth & Age"



21 comments:

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is just wonderful poetry, Shay. Such a delicacy to your images which recall a more gentile time, and always the moon, and motherhood, and growing younger instead of older. I love all of it, but especially:

"Mama, look at the moon, changeless, ever the cool Mistress
of outward sky and inward seas."

lotus blossom said...

I am in awe of this. I plan to live in this for days, reading it each time as if it were the first.

lotus blossom said...

Really, this is a masterpiece. I know I've said it on a number of occasions, but this may be your finest poem.

TexWisGirl said...

can i settle for being a slightly younger woman in my own life? :)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh my goodness, this is a perfect expression of youth and age, the wistfulness, the contemplation of the moon, the companionship of the cat. Sigh. Beautiful work.

Maple Rat said...

Breath-taking, your imagery is really stunning. I love all the lines, but I especially love the line "What do you suppose we were, when we were older?" - Maple Rat

Cloudia said...

You find gems; or they find you. . . words and concept meld to create the New, yet bedrock of us



ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral
=^..^= . <3 . >< } } (°>

Outlawyer said...

A wonderful back and forth here, of time and time travel and also of focus--between the ages, and on a specific relationship. Very well done, Shay--captivating, interesting, and one leaves with an ah. Thanks. k. (Manicddaily)

Ella said...

Bravo! Watch out for those inward seas-I love that line!

I love the way you wove this one~

kaykuala said...

Fantastic write Shay! Wanting to be younger and living up to it can be most fascinating. It leaves the hopes alive for many other accomplishments.

Hank

Lynn said...

The wonderful thing about talking to cats...

Marian said...

this makes me feel rather achey.

myinnerchick.com said...

I LOVE love love love this!

Your words soak inside. xx

Grandmother (Mary) said...

My favorite in this extraordinary piece is the baby dusted with shine from the moon. But I've absorbed so many lines to be my favorites later.

Sara said...

This is lovely, especially your descriptions. I loved "hips as round as the bend in a river stream." How do you do come up with such amazing comparisons?

Your poems always create such vivid images. Even without the header picture, I can picture this woman.

Loved the ending. It will haunt me for awhile, as will the question:~)

Poet Laundry said...

"duty and a difficult business" Ugh. A life without dreams is unbearable. I love the "dusted with shine from the moon" line.

Margaret said...

This has an interesting rhythm - a desire to be younger (of course) but then a reflection on "when we where older" - which kind of makes me skip along that timeline in an odd way. I love looking at the Victorian look - but wouldn't want to cinch the waist-line. Cool piece - and the Mama who no longer can criticize a dreaming nature.

G-Man said...

Younger....(sigh)

You are so cool...G

Mama Zen said...

This is the poetry I wish that I could write.

my heart's love songs said...

i will echo Mama Zen's words that "this is the poetry i wish that i could write."

too many exquisite lines and phrases to quote ~ stunning!

i love Donovan ~ i named my daughter after his song "Jennifer Juniper" even though i was a teenager when i first heard it. (hmmm... it was only a couple of years before i got pregnant.)

lotus blossom said...

Okay, so I can tell that you want more specific feedback. So here goes~

The title is very clever because at first-glance, it prepares us for a story about someone who has fallen in love with a younger woman. But no, this is actually about someone who imagines herself becoming a younger woman.

"former time" / "nine-lived cat" / "shine" ... This is heaven to my ears. I love the way words flow out of you, rhyming so gently.

"moon" / "through"
"wrists" / "silver" / "hips"
"feathers" / "dead"
"mooon" / "cool"
"waist" / "lace"
"night" / "quiet" / "skylight"

"inward seas" morphing into "inward seize"

"refracted through my window at a different angle"

"I want slender wrists and a silver watch"

"my hat piled high with blooms and feathers"

"I say, 'Mama, look at the moon, changeless, ever the cool Mistress
of outward sky and inward seas.'
At last, mama doesn't contradict me. She has forgotten how."

"wearing deep blue dresses flared at the shoulder and cinched at the waist,
with white lace at every edge" ... Well, on through to the end, actually.

Again, this is such beautiful work. But when I read it again and again, it makes me feel sadder and sadder. Either the speaker has been stifled by her mother for so long that she doesn't have much of her own life left and can only live out her dreams in her imagination, OR her mother has actually driven the daughter mad with a hopeless attitude and negative energy. Perhaps the daughter is now bordering on believing her fantasies are becoming reality. She really just wants to be free of her mother (it sounds like she will actually have to die before the daughter is set free). Then the girl can hopefully start her own life in earnest, having nine lives as her dream cat might. I love the connection between the daughter and the cat. It's so subtle, but it's almost like a Catwoman kind of thing; the cat is a part of her. I'm picturing the daughter turning into a cat and going out prowling the city at night while the mother is sleeping. :)