Thursday, May 4, 2017

Poem for a Week of Tiredness: "My Habit, My Hairshirt"

I've been feeling tired this week.  In a way, I expected that tiredness.  In a way, I'm surprised.  It seems the pace of administrator life never really slows down, but other priorities come to the front, demanding attention.

It could be worse.  I still prefer this life to the life I had when I was an adjunct, which meant driving across three counties, keeping my office in my car.

Still, there are times when I wish I had more time for contemplation.  And not a day goes by when I don't wish for more joy.  I'm good at injecting joy into my days--I just wish there was time for more.

This morning I was wondering if I had missed the feast day that celebrates Julian of Norwich.  Nope!  I've got until May 8.

That pondering made me think of the following poem.  I wrote it during my adjunct years, when I drove across three counties, filling my gas tank several times a week, teaching Composition here (and there and everywhere!), Literature survey classes there, Victorian and Romantic Lit classes in yet a different location.

I had just taught Julian of Norwich, and I was thinking of her days as an anchoress, when this poem came to me. It was published in my chapbook, Whistling Past the Graveyard.

Even though it doesn't describe my literal life, it does describe an aspect of my mental life, especially if I'm not careful.  I might change the bit about the Daytimer--do people use those anymore?  I might make reference to Microsoft Outlook if I wrote it these days--or maybe there's a smartphone app?

In any case, may we all have some time for contemplation and a relaxed pace, if not every day, at least once a day.  And if not, may we get poems out of our pace, poems that we still like more than a decade after we wrote them!

My Habit, My Hairshirt

A modern day anchoress, I commit
myself to my car. In my moving cell,
I sing constantly and pray without ceasing.

I dedicate myself to our modern religion
of hectic pace. I rush from one location to another,
showing my devotion in twelve hour increments.

No time for contemplation, the anathema
to the modern ascetic. I flog
myself with my cell phone and briefcase.

Occasionally, a heretical urge lures
me, a siren song urging me to slow down,
tempting me to tame my frantic schedule.

But no Gnostic visions for me. I race
through another week in the grip of my Daytimer,
my habit, my hairshirt.

No comments: