My friend Marie works with words in many ways: as a writer of novels that no one yet reads (she is a big fan of NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, each November, and has participated in that for two or three years); as an editor of textbooks and other scholarly writing (she is fluent in several languages, with a linguistics degree from a certain university in New Haven that will today go unnamed); as a writing coach, coaxing those who need to slog through sometimes intimidating projects; as the keeper of a blog; and as a poet.
She is also a fiercely brilliant word gamer, a worthy opponent for anyone daring enough to take her on in Scrabble, Lexulous, Boggle, or other word games, both on-line and at the dining room table. (Serial Susan has been her gaming friend, and it is rumored that Marie has taken down a few noted professional deconstructionists in her day.) I can't do it, I'm hopeless at such things once the heat is on: I need my word games to be very slow and contemplative, as I am apt to go down a rabbit hole and forget that I'm trying to beat either the clock or anyone but myself.
Anyway, that is a long introduction to the piece of writing I am posting today. Marie recently went on a Women Writing for (a) Change Bloomington weekend writers' retreat, and she focused on a favorite form, the ghazal. She's been sharing some of her ghazals the past few days, and gave me permission to post. I think they are very remarkable. I'm happy to serve as her literary agent if there are any book publishers out there looking for a next great poet. (I am also happy to represent my mother, Joyce Kennedy, whose extraordinary manuscript of poems about Shakespeare's female characters, Will's Women, needs a publishing home.)
There is a pattern to the ghazal. Without cheating and reading about it, can you discern what it is?
God has a place, surely, somewhere to be, at least some little nook for God.
And God has a shape, pentagod or octagod or something, or how could I look for God?
In the spaces between us, that's my line, that's my God-is-love theory, so weirdly
I'm always careful of those growing and shrinking spaces, alert and on the hook for God.
God being every gender of course, he/she/they are multidomestic and omnieverywhere,
Mr. and Mrs. God I call them, sitting them down as I tie on my apron and cook for God.
Mr. and Mrs. I call them, serving them all kinds of healthy-as-sin organic wonderful
Goodies they've never seen and they marvel. I'm putting it all in a gaudily illustrated book for God.
For nobody else would I cook and clean and work like this. I've even learned new stuff.
You wouldn't believe the workshops and tutorials and classes I took for God.
Things get in the way, obviously. Kids, work, husband, parents, you-name-it. But sometimes
I just have to broom them all out of the way, get out my little schedule, and rebook for God.
Life gets knotted up. I lose my way. My shoulders and back are tight and I frown.
Life gets knotted up and I have to take it all and undo, unstitch, unhook for God.
People are running everywhere. Max far away, Michel in a book, Felix online.
I want to scoop them together and show them what I've done and say see, look, all that I undertook for God!
Mostly I need to sit in this corner, that corner, some corner somewhere where I can close my eyes.
Sit in a corner, say I am Marie, this continues true, no matter what I forsook for God.