I have many conflicted feelings when it comes to Valentine's Day. I remember making mailboxes for Valentines out of shoeboxes. I remember classroom parties in elementary school with candy and cupcakes and people delivering mass-produced cards. I remember counting them afterwards and comparing the count to everyone else's count.
I am not proud to admit this, but I also remember feeling unloved when my count was lower. I didn't focus on the 15 cards I did get, but on the 25 cards that my prettier best friend got. It's a lesson I continue to learn again and again, that I would be happier if I didn't compare myself to others.
When I look at those long-ago class pictures, I can no longer pick out the pretty girls, the handsome boys. They all look like kids to me, regular kids, each and every one.
I have happier memories of making Valentines, both as a child and an adult. A few years ago, my spouse and I made homemade Valentines for our nephew. My sister reported that he was thrilled.
A few years ago, a group of us at work met to compare poems and art. And now, one of those poems is up at Escape into Life: go here to read it. You'll need to scroll down to get to my poem.
It's part of a great feature, poems and art for Valentine's Day. Last week's installment was wonderful too.
When I think about the writing process of that poem, I don't think about words. I remember it as the time when our Pam Reagan, our visual artist friend, showed us a mask. When she said mask, I thought Mardi Gras and two dimensions. She told us that she had broken glass Christmas ornaments, but I thought she had laid them flat.
I was not prepared for this:
When I read the poem, I see the elements of the piece in the poem, particularly in these images:
"You envisioned the Mardi Gras mask"
"the glittered borders"
But I no longer remember how I came to use the idea of a rosary, of deconstructing sacred relics to repair a heart. It feels somewhat sacrilegious to me, yet I know that it's sound theology of a sort.
Is it my theology? No. I didn't intend it as theology--I save that writing for other outlets. But I do love the imagery, and I don't feel that I've used it in a profane way. It may not be sacred, but it's not intended as a desecration.
The poem does what I want for all my poems: it makes me look at a subject differently. In this case, it takes images that have a powerful potential for cliché and banality that comes from overuse and makes me think about them differently.
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