Wednesday, October 04, 2006

With nakedness my shield

In my family there's a long, multigenerational push to "keep things in the family." Secrets like alcoholism, abuse, insanity, and plain old divorce were all sort of swept under the rug and more or less not talked about. Covering for your family members' failures and pretending to the outside world that we were something we were not are both skills I've had ample time to hone.

As I'm sure you can imagine this doesn't really jive all that well with being a writer. Lucky for me, though, my generation seems to be a bit more open. In response to my first novel (based really really loosely on a close reltive who's a paranoid schizophrenic) a cousin said: "I've heard you've written a book about X and I'm not supposed to ask about it."


There's this poem by Theordore Roethke that's been rattling around in my brain for years that I thought I'd share with you. Perfect for those with a bent for blogging.


My secrets cry aloud.
I have no need for tongue.
My heart keeps open house,
My doors are widely swung.
An epic of the eyes
My love, with no disguise.

My truths are all foreknown,
This anguish self-revealed.
I'm naked to the bone,
With nakedness my shield.
Myself is what I wear:
I keep the spirit spare.

The anger will endure,
The deed will speak the truth
In language strict and pure.
I stop the lying mouth;
Rage warps my dearest cry
To witness agony.



Blogger Karen said...

That's a beautiful poem! Thanks for posting it.

It must be "naked" Wednesday - I wrote a post today with naked in the title as well.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Powerful poem. Ya know, I'm thinking maybe its not so much what we go through, but all the crazy making efforts that go into making sure everyone pretends things are just fine that make us crazy sometimes, huh?

Well, here's to nakedness - !!!!

10:57 PM  
Blogger Wendy Ann Edwina D'Cunha e Pereira said...

this is pretty common in India as well.... Nobody will ever reveal anything remotely negative about their family here either. Only here the list of negatives are pretty huge...

Things like inter religious / inter cast(unique to India), diseases which are of genetic origin or considered so, and so many other things are not usually revealed or discussed...
I guess most of it has bearing on the fact that "arranged Marriages" are still a done thing here and all these lower the "Marriage prospects" of the children...

5:07 AM  
Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Gee, sounds a lot like my family. I think there's a generational component to this sort of stuff.

I heard Jeffrey Eugenides being interviewed once up here on the CBC. I forget whom he was quoting but he said "The worst thing that can happen to a family is to have a writer in it." I put off a lot of writing because I'm afraid of what my family will think, but I've got to get over that for sure.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

BTW, how's the Beta Blogger thing going? Have you worked out some of the kinks? Is it worth switching?

4:45 PM  
Blogger Candy Minx said...


Wandering Coyote reminded with her quote about a writer in the family...I think Pat Conroy has said that too...that it irked his parents that he was writing about family...very similar type of family to his own.

This is funny in some ways, when my parents divorced...they each ratted out the other about their family histories. My dad said all the weirdo things about my moms family, and vice versa.

My family took keeping secrets to a whole new level, they just really didn't do many family things.

I love the poem it is very beuatiful...

I like this line:
Myself is what I wear: I keep the spirit spare.

Love that!!!

6:02 PM  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

wow... i love that poem! it's so beautiful!

6:10 PM  

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