“Freedom” by Naomi Rosenblatt, Washington Heights

Change July 13, 2011 21:27
topic: CHANGE medium: TEXT
as shared at a PenTales event themed “Freedom and Power”
Sometimes – usually when I’m avoiding real responsibility – I juice up my laptop and pull up old files of things I’ve written.

Essays, usually.   Or long, aimless letters to family, friends… former friends.  It’s an innocent, soothing habit.  I like to take a peek back at the old me, who wrote those things.  Sometimes it’s like holding up a mirror – it could still be me, today, writing down those thoughts.  But sometimes it’s like looking at a shadow of myself – the things that irritated me, angered me, that tugged or even slashed at my self-confidence.  I often read these with an almost detached interest – I know why I thought and felt those things then, and that’s ok.

But there’s a file on my laptop that I rarely open.  It contains a series of Word documents that –  if I were to read them – would conjure, not a shadow of myself, but a ghost.  There’s a constant itch in my index finger that just longs to drag those files into the trash bin.  But the historian in me says, no no no, you should keep those documents.  They’re an important reminder.

These documents contain the only poems that I’ve ever written.  They almost all date – painfully – from high school.  I rarely open these files because they speak for an angsty teenage girl with some self confidence issues to work through, and a slightly inflated sense of her excellent poetry writing skills.

But the theme of tonight’s gathering is ‘freedom,’ and in that vein, I’d like to read a short piece written by my 17-year old self

  • Call it majestic,
  • Maybe call it grand –
  • But I know simplicity
  • When I see it.
  • A lake, a breeze,
  • A mallard dunking its head
  • Beneath the murky surface.
  • Every breath of air
  • That drifts to the shore
  • Melts away just a little bit
  • Of feeling,
  • Until my heart is no longer
  • A spilling sack of sand.
  • I reach into myself,
  • Grabbing the appendix of
  • My soul,
  • And twist it shut,
  • Securing it –
  • Safe.
  • The day is still,
  • And breathless.
  • In the distance I hear
  • The sound of voices
  • And laughing,
  • Rejoicing to the steady beat
  • Of some camaraderie
  • To which I can’t really get
  • In sync.
  • I hug my knees to my chest –
  • I’m airtight, a
  • Bobbing balloon loosely held
  • To the earth.
  • I see what I want to be
  • Within my reach –
  • And I extend one arm out
  • Stretching my veins, willing them –
  • And yet I can’t…
  • I can’t…

The girl who wrote that poem really is a ghost now.  And that knowledge makes me feel incredibly powerful.  Freedom from the shackles of lack of self-confidence – that’s the kind of freedom that I’ll take any day.

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