Evergreen/Chiaroscuro

*The shorter version of this poem (found below entitled Chiaroscuro,) and this one are excerpts from the larger work entitled Evergreen that I have since submitted for Tell Her Summit’s upcoming Anthology Pause and Pivot. I’m sharing both here, mostly for posterity’s sake so that I can look back and remember what, exactly, I posted for the challenge.

 

—Evergreen—

All my life, I’ve been told I’m “too.”

Too sensitive, too intense,
Too emotional, too chaotic,
Too idealistic, too impulsive,
Think too much, read too much, write too much.

And today I realize that my desire to be liked,
My constant seeking of assurance,
My need to understand,
My need to be understood,
My attempts to fit in,
My longing to belong,
It all makes me small.
It makes me forget who I am.
Who I want to be.

I restrict the number of dreams I share, for fear I’ll seem obsessive.
I censor every thought I share, for fear I’ll seem absurd.
Every time I’m faced with a blank page,
I’m certain I have nothing left that’s meaningful to tell.
Every time I’m faced with a blank canvas,
I’m terrified today will be the day I’ve forgotten how to paint.
I’ve created entire galleries of unshared art,
And composed entire studios of unshared photos,
Certain none of it is worth reflecting the light in someone’s eyes.
I’ve written entire books of unshared poetry,
And entire libraries of unshared chapters,
Which never escape the binding of my journals for fear that I’ll be chastised once again.

A friend advises me to “stop reading such depressing things,”
Not understanding that from the bottom of the valley
I most clearly see the stars.
Another suggests that I “stop picking at scabs,”
Not understanding I’m not tearing my wounds, I’m sewing them closed,
And the needle which hurts also heals.
Another chides me, shouting: “Just be positive!”
Not seeing that I am.
But my dark is equal to my light,
And no tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell,*
And I intend that every one of my branches be full
And tall
And wide enough
To become the billion pages
Of all the books
And all the poems
And all the paintings
I’ll someday use to scale the sky.

We’re all growing,
Stretching,
Reaching for clouds,
Dropping our leaves with the fall of our faith
And budding again with the spring of new hope,
Trying so damn desperately to belong
That we haven’t yet learned how to stay evergreen.
But if the only place we ever belong is to ourselves,
And the only peace we ever make is with ourselves,
It is enough.
It is everything.

Rina Marie
(*Carl Jung)

 

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The title of this poem comes from an Italian word which describes the use of strong contrasts between light and dark to achieve a sense of volume. The underlying principle of chiaroscuro is that solidity of form is best achieved by the areas of light and dark falling against it…

I had a friend who once advised me to stop reading “such depressing things,” not understanding that from the bottom of the valley I most clearly see the stars.
I had a friend who once suggested I stop “picking at scabs,”
not understanding I’m not tearing my wounds, I’m sewing them closed,
and the needle which hurts also heals.
I had a friend who once chastised me, shouting “Just be positive!”
Not seeing that I am.
But my dark is equal to my light
And no tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell,*
And I intend that every one of my branches be full
and tall
and wide enough
to become the billion pages
of all the books
and all the poems
and all the paintings
I’ll someday use to scale the sky.

Rina Mare
(*Carl Jung)

30 days of Poetry, Day 24

Inspired by the poem Panic Button Collector by Andrea Gibson.

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