i still believe i am the gutter queen,
green slime all over me,
long, torn red ribbons in my filthy hair.
i’m bobbing up and down in rain-drenched clothes
in my black ship up on a raging river in the sewer.
i’m comfortable thinking that i’ll never be up there,
competing with the humans for a nice, clean table,
i’m comfortable thinking that i’m different than they.
i’m comfortable on my black ship, i,
the gutter queen.
and i don’t want to think, “what if” …
that is the beginning of the poem i showed you yesterday.
i want to tell you a little bit about how it came about and what writing it did for me.
a few days before i had had a phone conversation where i felt accused of being unfair and arrogant. it was clear to me that any further conversation with that person would just make things worse for both him and myself, so i had not choice but to deal with it on my end.
i felt agitated and, well, simply bad. the old “me” would have had different versions of long conversations with that person – all in my head, of course. the new “me”, however, knew that the only person i could have these mental conversations with was myself.
so i started asking myself questions like
“what is it that makes me feel so agitated?”
“where do i feel that feeling in my body?”
“what memories come up as i experience these feelings?”
“what mental images go with all of this?”
the mental image that kept coming up was of being in the gutter. like so many other women – old or young, successful or not – i had this deep-seated fear of insecurity, thinking that any moment now i might end up a bag lady – in the gutter.
rather than chasing this image away, i painted it. and since i paint with words, i turned it into a poem. i was given the grace to look the demon right in the eye, rather than running away from it.
a few days later i wrote another poem. it was much lighter, much more hopeful.
and a few weeks later i noticed that that nagging little fear of becoming a bag lady that had always been with me had diminished to almost nothing. shining a light on it had faded it away.
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(this post has been included in the carnival for creative growth #11)