Blog

Better and Brighter

A Very Small Flicker by Aubri Wilson

You gave me a day, when I only asked for an hour.

I gave you a spark, but couldn’t sustain it.

As weak as I felt, you made me think I could be strong.

But I held back in fear, and watched you slip away.

You remained in the foreground of my thoughts.

But if I was to reach out to touch you,

You became a diaphanous specter.

I hid behind smoke screens and dust,

All the time wishing you to see me clearly.

In tears I turned and walked away,

Softly treading the well-worn path of defeat.

But, you grabbed my hand, and asked me to stay.

And then I had hope again to create a flame

From a very small flicker you wouldn’t let die.

 

No matter what I do, I can’t seem to think of writing about much right now besides something relating to what’s going to happen in six days. I’m getting married! For years I’ve looked forward to the day. I thought it would come, but I didn’t know when. A few years ago I wrote the poem above, imagining a future event I might experience, and how wonderful the part when someone would grab my hand and ask me to stay. In some ways I feel like I’ve experienced fairly closely the road this poem outlines. In the midst of many to dos, it’s nice to reflect on the way I’ve come.

Certainly there are ups and downs, but I do believe if you try to be better during both kinds of times, you will, and it’s a joyful thing to find someone doing the same who you can get better with. Better and brighter!

 

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

My Next Book!

My vision for my upcoming book of poetry began just over a year ago, funnily enough in my office at work. And it came in a surprising way. Several people invited me to be a speaker for an event that is no longer. At first I just shook my head but after five or so suggested it, I wondered what I’d speak about if I accepted in future. I was talking with a colleague at the time about this and then I said to her that if I was going to speak, it’d probably relate to art and writing. And then I said something to the effect of, “And it’d be better if I’d already published a book at that point.”

Well, plans began and shifted several times. I published Beside Them in Nature’s Mirror first and then planned on my second book as a compilation of some of the general poetry I’ve written over the last four years. It’s coming closer! I had the title and images for the cover in my mind develop many months ago and now I can say that I have cover images ready to create the final cover design! It was so exciting to see the vision in my mind come alive in this way. I can’t even describe that feeling. And this is a tease, because I’m not ready for a cover reveal yet so you can see.

With wedding planning lately timelines may be pushed back a bit, but I will put updates on my second book here as we go along. However, to give you an idea, here are sections the poems in this book will fall under:

 

Love and the Lack Thereof

Musical Pictures

Faith

Deep in Thought

Imagination in Flight

 

In the meantime, while planning and preparing this book in the midst of life, I’ll try to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly. Thanks for putting it that way Micah. That’s about the best we can ever do.

It’s Going to Take a Lot

You know those days you just feel a bit deadened after work? One day last year like this I found a lively piano cover of “Africa” by Toto. I thought Peter Bence’s usage of the piano was brilliant, how he tapped it, drummed it, punched it, plucked it. I liked his use of loops, and I loved how obvious it was that he was so into what he was doing, and feeling the music deeply. His movements to some may seem exaggerated in the way he throws back his hands after playing a key sometimes, and how he moves his head and even bounces a bit on the bench. I wouldn’t say it’s so exaggerated though. It’s just how he feels it. And the fact that he’s barefoot seems to be a way to be more connected with the music as well.

It’s quite a popular song, with covers abounding. And the lyrics are something else. I never knew quite what the song was about until reading about the history here. It made me think of how before I lived in China, I read so much about the country that I started falling in love with it even before I experienced any of it. And then I lived there, and some dream I didn’t fully realize I had started coming true. It’s difficult to describe how I felt there. The idea came on over time, and when I looked back, it seemed to begin in the 7th grade, when I made friends with a girl from China. It felt a bit crazy to travel so far, and sometimes I couldn’t believe I’d dared to go there, but it felt so right. It felt sometimes like I imagine Peter Bence must have felt making his cover. I watched some English teachers like me leave early, but I told myself it’d take a lot to dissuade me, even when things became tough. I love how this cover of “Africa” below starts with the line, “It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you”, putting the focus on the beginning of the chorus even more.

There were notions I held onto firmly when I came home from China, though at times they seemed implausible. It’d take a lot for those notions to leave, and for them to be realized. Some of that is clear through this poem I wrote last September.

Hopes and Dreams
by Aubri Wilson


These hopes and dreams

Of errant things

Doodles floating in my brain

Bounded still, and cut in pain

How many loved you?

One-and-a-half

Truly?

No

Half and half




These hopes and dreams

Of filling things

Show me please

Where is the cream?

 

One such notion was what I told everyone in China who asked me to stay longer or when I would come back. My answer was that I’d come back when I had a husband to bring. Now seven years later, I’ll make that a true statement. I’d given up on waiting and planned to go myself but then I met my now fiance, and when much still hadn’t happened, I asked him to go with me. He said yes. And guys, I’m telling you, I found the cream.

Without Consulting Me

I took some time looking back last week, as I encouraged in my post two weeks ago. Did you miss me? Well, I missed you, and this. I hadn’t missed a week before, but let’s just say life got raw and real without consulting me first. Neglect was not my intention, however, a nasty virus took over for a little over a week and in the midst of fighting that while still keeping appointments, and showing up, and supporting my fiance, I didn’t get around to my usual post. Okay, I’ll move on from excuses.

Some weeks ago I hinted that food poems might pop up here. Yet I haven’t been inspired to write any really. With figuring out the changes in my diet after discovery of food allergies, I’ve been a little overwhelmed. It’s not as bad now that I’ve come through the first month. So far in thinking more about food than before, planning, and wondering and feeling stumped sometimes, and very nostalgic and occasionally a little bit sad, I haven’t wanted to think more about it in order to write about it. That’s a little disappointing because I can tell you that there has been a lot of emotion around this journey. And I love turning emotion into poetry. But perhaps the time is not yet.

I will try and be patient because in time I’ll discover new ideas and perhaps be inspired to write more about this in future. Two weeks ago I had to be patient and recall that like attracts like. And so I saw it happen that the busier I got, the busier I got. On the 24th last month, I wrote about the frustration of being sick when everything I had going on was happening. I was particularly disappointed when a colorful quinoa bowl I made (pictured above) was not enjoyable because it was painful to eat (due to the aforementioned virus). At the time it felt like I’d be sick forever, but I feel very much recovered now. I simply had to wait. When life doesn’t consult you, and it’s unpleasant for a bit, just remember, you’ll get through it in time. You will.

 

Without Consulting Me
by Aubri Wilson


When what I said I didn’t have time for

Happens without consulting me

When I want comforting

But can’t eat my comfort food

When I thought I’d let your kisses be my dessert

Yet I’m sick, so I’d better not get too close

When there’s so much to talk about

And my throat aches and I’m too tired for it

When what I want and work for

May not happen how I desire

When what I know I need

Will take longer than expected

Because I need something else first

That’s when patience calls me

And I decide whether to let her in

Looking Back

Image by Olivia Gunnel Photography. See her website here!

 

Life is, for many, often fast-paced, with myriads of things to accomplish and tick off the list that is ever-growing and expanding. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and forget to relax a little, to look back, for a moment at least, at what led you to where you are now. Sometimes we want to forget the past. Sometimes we feel too busy or forward-focused to reflect. While we don’t want to get stuck in looking back in nostalgia or perhaps regret, reviewing your path helps you determine what you want and need to do in the now and for the future.

I often have a hard time slowing down. In the last few years I’ve become increasing focused on goals and trying to use time intentionally, although I have a long way to go with this. The poem below was a fun use of imaginative imagery for what the man who is now my betrothed (ha, that sounds so deliciously old-fashioned in my old soul’s brain) has often encouraged me to do. I wrote the poem about three months ago, but now I look back and see that it rings even more true.

Without crossing too far into my personal life, here’s a bit of background on the poem. Back on June 2nd, 2018 I had the privilege of singing with a choir in Carnegie Hall and spent time in New York City for the first time in my life. Wow, was that exciting!

The same week my family was dealing with a new crisis which has changed and continued to impact our lives to now. On May 30th this year, my younger brother I went to Manhattan with (and I knew it was likely the first and only trip we’d ever take together) got married. While still in Manhattan, we were invited to Italy to sing with the same group in 2020 but both realized we had no idea what we’d be doing in a year from then and both wondered if maybe, possibly, one or both of us would be married by then.

Well, a year after our concert, the most adoring, uninfluenced (by others’ opinions), considerate, brave, crazy, challenge-accepting man proposed to me. Yes, that’s us up above. So while there are new priorities and things to prepare for, he keeps reminding me to “take off my shoes”.

 

Take Off My Shoes by Aubri Wilson


I just want to take off my shoes

And rest more than I’ve allowed myself

To in a year

I can’t believe the anniversary’s almost here

Of the summer that made me smile in awe

And also made me cry over loss

When I did not know I stood at the brink

Of a mighty change, and cycles of whirling

Upside down and around




But I did not have you last year

And if you’re here, don’t leave

If you’re here, please hold me a while

And I will be better

Give me some honey, and I’ll revive

Almost, I apologize for the crazy I brought

But you say I’m the best luck you’ve had

And tell me to take off my shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching and Waiting

In college I read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. What impressed me most was this quote:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I read it and reread it and thought to myself, this is the worst kind of danger, one I’m deep in right now. I considered studying biology to become a geneticist, and psychology like my father had done, and also music. But of all the options, I decided on English with a creative writing focus. And occasionally I wondered if I’d made the wrong choice, but then I’d bat that thought away. I chose it, and due to that alone, it was right (at least in this case). As I’d hear and read about opportunities for clubs and study abroad and seminars and meetings and concerts and volunteering I’d fancifully think of and then choose none of them. Part of this was picturing barriers that may not have been as large as I thought, but a lot of it was simple indecision.

The further I got in school, the more I realized I needed to just pick and try things. And I did. I auditioned for and joined a women’s choir (the first choir outside of church I’d ever sung in), took two dance classes, and did a service-learning internship at the Boys and Girls Club, where I figured out how to teach piano to kids who struggled to pay attention and didn’t have an instrument to practice on at home.

When I was in my senior year and afraid of not knowing what I wanted to do when I graduated, I met with a career counselor several times, who looked at options with me and one day offhandedly remarked that if I ever wanted to be crazy I could try Teach for America or the Peace Corps. I laughed, thinking in no way was I cut out for something like that, then a few months later decided to move to China to teach English. Ha.

Choosing can be difficult and searching and researching options for your next venture in life can leave you unsure, confused, overwhelmed, anxious, or even paralyzed. But taking a step forward helps determine the way much better than hiding your head between your knees. Every choice I’ve made and loved started out with discovery. Once I’d made the choice, I was in, and at some point it was like I was moving along to my own soundtrack. You know, like the way you might feel if one day you were told your life was one big crazy musical.

“Wait, have those violins been playing in the background all along?” you’d ask.

Yep, you just didn’t see them hiding in those bushes,” would come the reply.

And the trumpets??” 

They’ve been following you around since you were born you know.”

“Oh, wow!”

So if you haven’t found your song yet, this poem is for you:

Searching for my song
by Aubri Wilson

I'm searching for my song

Still straining to hear

Waiting for the one I feel

Undeniably in my veins and bones

The song of right now

Which touches my senses

Nearly like déjà vu

And yet melodies seemingly familiar

May almost, but not quite do the trick

I’m searching for my song

Wondering if I missed it

While not being open to listen

Hearing words but assigning

To them the wrong notes

Maybe I can try again

If I close my eyes and reflect

Maybe it’s true that a few sweet notes

In duples or triples at a time

Or even one by one

Dilatorily crawling along

Can tell me if it’s my song

That I’ll love

With a beautiful line

Note by note by note

All the way through

If there’s silence

Maybe there are just

A few more measures of rest

To wait through

So if I’m searching for my song still

I believe I’ll find my song soon

Senses and Illusions

I’ve wondered sometimes what it’d be like to be blind. What if I suddenly had an accident or contracted an illness that ruined my sight? Would the world be a less certain place? How would my other senses adjust? How could I continue with normal activities like reading and writing? Or, what would it be like to be deaf? How could I continue with playing and singing music? What if, due to some sensory illness or disorder, I lived without most of my sense of touch? Or even taste?

What I wonder most is how I’d connect with people and with the world differently, and how other senses might heighten to compensate. And then, even though we rely on our sensory perception so much, we are sometimes fooled. Check out some mind-boggling sensory illusions here. You might be surprised about some of these!

A little over a month ago, I penned a poem as I thought about how all this would be like, and what would happen if I could rely a little more on those things you only feel inside.

 

In a filled room,

Blind with no one speaking,

I’d know you by the sound of your breathing.




I’d know you by the rate of your heartbeat

If I touched your chest.

I’d know you by the feel of the air around you

If you stood near.




I’d know, I’d know you, yes.

I’d know you without needing

To hear your voice, or see you,

Or after all, even without needing to touch you.




I’d know you because 

Of times before when 

You held my hand 

And my pain and panic

Dissipated into the night

With my heartbeats 

Matching yours




And now, do you believe?

My heart is independent

It seems, but speaks and tells

Me when yours is near




After so long, I think

I’ve finally learned

How to listen to it

When all along

It’s been trying to tell me

Things, important things

That I should know


Sand Lily

Three weeks ago in this post, I shared a music video from the documentary Many Beautiful Things about the little known artist, writer, adventurer and missionary Lilias Trotter. Earlier this week I watched the film because the music from a favorite artist of mine drew me in and I curiously looked up the trailer.

Several of the quotes from Lilias in the film made me feel overcome with admiration. This was a woman who voluntarily gave up an opportunity for recognition and acclaim in order to travel far away to a desert, a country where she was unable to communicate in the local tongue and unfamiliar with the customs. She gave up a life of relative ease to live in harsher conditions, and spent years of her life serving women and children who had desperate needs.

I was particularly impressed by her thoughts on the sand lily. Her biographer shares the quote and expounds on it in a thoughtful and worthwhile post here.

Instead of commenting beyond what Miriam has done, I will simply share a poem of my own that Lilias’ thoughts inspired.

 

Sand Lily


If I’m my worst enemy

I err on the side of caution

Holding back only to avoid

Tripping over myself

And taking a tumble

Ignoring the fact

That I can be careful

But move forward still

And if I fall and land

Where I did not want to

I can stand up again

And sometimes after all

The landing is softer

Than expected

Or can be the place

I need to be in

To see from a new angle

And truly I forget

But want, no need

To believe that

I am a sand lily

As no harshness or lack

Around me will induce

A threat to my bloom

For when I search

From within

I have all that I need

 

Goodbye to PB & J

On Wednesday I may have eaten a peanut butter sandwich for the last time. I’m tempted to write an ode to that delightful food of my childhood up through my twenties. Before I gave away the peanut butter in my fridge along with other foods I needed to retire, I almost thought to hold a little funeral, maybe with a pyre. But no, the picture is of a gorgeous sunset a few weeks ago I saw while walking, not a fire I started in my neighborhood.

Here lies the convenient and delicious and healthy (or so I thought for me) lunch of choice on busy days….

Anyway, I had food allergy testing done and was quite surprised about some of the foods that came back as positive and high enough to consider avoiding entirely. Peanuts was at the top, and I had 19 others on the list. You may just see more about that here later, but maybe it’s a bit too fresh and honestly overwhelming to share yet. I can say that what I will be eating on a daily basis will be quite different than before. I did expect to have some allergies (doesn’t everyone lately have some?) but I was not prepared for several of the foods on the list or for the number that gave cause for change.

Yet the goal is to have better health and feel better generally so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens through avoiding these foods and finding new ones to enjoy instead. Really I always wanted an excuse to try new foods and create my own strange recipes….but gosh, socially this may be a bit of a challenge. A friend jokingly said when I listed just a few of the allergies, “Um…can you eat anything besides air?!”

While I think withdrawals and cravings and the psychological part of missing what I used to eat will be the hardest, this could be a pretty fun challenge and adventure that will take some creativity. And you know what? I love things that encourage or even require creativity.

After initial elimination of all of the foods on the list, I may experiment adding back in some of them a tiny bit one at a time to check the reaction and whether it’s acceptable for me or not. I definitely haven’t had the level of severity to trigger deep concern, but passing itchiness of skin, eyes and ears, occasional abdominal pain, and feeling a little more weak than seems normal may be due to these foods. It will be fascinating to see how different I feel in a few weeks.

Just like I may have had some of these allergies for a long time but was unaware, I’ve been creative for a long time but just recently have tried to share this with a broader sphere, so be on the lookout for some food poems perhaps!

One last note. I’m not sure exactly why, but I secretly love break up songs. I’ve shared from this duo before because they’re one of my favorites. This song taken in new context of say, the guy being peanuts, and the singer being me is quite funny. Wow, this song takes a different turn in that light! If my craving for peanuts comes knocking, I’ll just remember what Carissa sings here and know I’m too good for that. And maybe I’d just tweak the words a little…”It’s just so hard to say goodbye when you’re so delicious” maybe. Ha. My silly sense of humor. I just had to have the goodbye here before I go on to the hello.

 

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑