**Haiku-ists: I swear I’ve written one. If you want to skip my letter to my daughter, you’ll find the poem at the bottom of this post right below the badge. Just scroll past my obnoxious verbosity.**
Dear Lily June,
Your mother, sane or not, can’t usually stay silent longer than a week. When I find that my grip on reality fails me, I take heart in idea of the “artist’s melancholy”–that somehow, the dark pitch poets and dreamers cast over our readings of society might end up illuminating truths behind it. One truth I’ve been thinking about in my silence is the transcendence of love.
Money, for instance, is a metaphor: In America, a dollar is a green piece of paper meant to stand in for a shiny rock. The shiny rock (called gold) is something that’s ACTUALLY valuable because…well…we’ve all collectively agreed to believe it so. There’s nothing about shiny rocks that make them inherently worthy of exchange for, say, a root canal or a fishing rod. Use credit cards, and you’ve further abstracted experience from reality–you’re using a piece of plastic to stand in for a piece of paper to stand in for a shiny rock. And yet, it’s a system we’ve all collectively agreed to experience as real and so, most of us walk around spending money not thinking about the fact that it is, in fact, a metaphor for a collective myth.
Something that helped me, too, is realizing that the practice of politics (or even the idea of nations at large) is also a metaphor rather than a reality. There’s nothing essentially American about the land in the state of Indiana, for instance, where we live. We’ve all just collectively agreed to consider the planet a game board, and we draw our lines around our property squares accordingly. (Does this make sense? Am I rambling?) Then, we choose our game pieces: Will you be the hardworking, tattered shoe or the easy-riding, rich limousine? But none of us is born a member of Party A or Party B. These are abstracted identities we choose to represent us in order to hide the terribly vulnerable fact: we are all human beings.
And the one universal experience of humanity seems, to me, to be the desire to be loved. Whether that means being desired or just being approved of, it seems to transcend any limitations or walls or metaphors we place between one another. As such, though I know it, too, is a kind of falsity, I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day, a day ostensibly to celebrate that commonality. Call me naïve. Call me sentimental. I wear the titles as badges of honor, Lily.
And I pass onto you the, albeit for you maybe, uncomfortable truth: No one would be alive (yourself included) if we weren’t driven by the need to be needed and loved by one another. Once, your father and I embraced each other in the dark, and out of that embrace, a spark shot into the world that would become your very existence. That the whole of our species is built on this? It’s sad, and vulnerable, and beautiful. And your real name, Lily June (the one I don’t use here to protect your privacy) means, in fact, light.
And so love–and light–the two words behind this week’s haiku challenge hosted by blogger Ronovan, inspired me to write the following. In some ways, it is, in a mere three lines, the story of our lives. And now that I’ve thoroughly overexplained EVERYTHING (as per usual), I distill my truth into the 17 syllables below.
each lover’s a bulb
twisted in darkness by hands
longing for more light
- By KMJ – de.wikipedia, original upload 26 Jun 2004 by de:Benutzer:KMJ, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=242907
- Badge from https://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/ronovanwrites-weekly-haiku-poetry-prompt-challenge-135-lovelight/