Sunday, October 07, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #20

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By the Blood
by Joy Renee

By the blood of the cow
And the blood of the lamb,
The blood of the hen and sow,
By the blood of the mother
And the blood of the land,
Is our life sustained,
Our Liberty maintained,
Law given reign,
And Peace allowed to stand.
With humble heart and head bowed,
Would we receive this gift of life.
For by the willing gift of the living blood,
Is our spirit constrained with the
Bonds of gratitude and love.


I've been avoiding posting this one because it makes me extremely uncomfortable. I find the metaphor disturbing and am not even sure I assent to the underlying philosophy anymore. I wrote it the summer of 2001 while immersed in readings in primitive mythology. During that same time there was a sudden rash of TV and movie theater offerings waxing nostalgic over past wars and their concomitant opportunities for 'brothers in arms' to perform acts of duty, honor, loyalty, courage, self-sacrifice. After about the zipteenth trailer of Pearl Harbor or Band of Brothers, I commented to my husband that this evident yearning for war was likely to spawn one in the near future--inside five years and probably half that.

I didn't want to be right!!

The cadence of this poem, like that of marching feet, is as disturbing as the images for me.

Then of course there is the whole Christian theology of my upbringing which I am still trying to sort out. So many emotional triggers here.

So why did I suddenly feel the time was right to share it? Why did I spend ten hours hunting for images to express all these convoluted emotions and thoughts?

Well there was a convergence of things recently that forced me to contemplate the metaphors anew. First, I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last week and these metaphors, strong throughout the seven book series, culminated in a very strong affirmation of the power contained in blood and in the willing offering of ones life in the name of love.

Next, I started a new novel. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It is the story of three historians in succession who trace the history of Vlad the Impaler aka Vlad Drakulya, a bloody ruler during the mid 1400s in what is now Romania who became the bane of both the Ottoman Empire and his own subjects. And around whom the legends grew that became the inspiration for Bram Stoker's novel.

Then on Friday evening Ed went to the Deli at the nearby grocery store to get stuff for our dinner. He brought me back salad makings, including an avocado which I love nearly as much as chocolate; and an entire roasted chicken just for me, which he expected would provide me several meals and snacks over the week-end. I was so hungry I almost swooned at the smell of that steaming hot chicken. I was too impatient to make my salad before I started eating. I just pulled off a leg and started in on it. And didn't stop until I'd sucked down all the dark meat and half a dozen bites of breast meat. I used both hands to pull apart the carcass. I flashed on images of Vikings feasting in old movies.

I was shocked and disgusted with myself. I who claim that if I had control of menu planning and grocery shopping, would be a vegetarian was scarfing down meat and nearly swooning over each bite as it hit my tongue, sucking on my fingers to keep the juices from running down my arms. My shock and disgust and the ensuing embarrassment did not stop me from repeating the performance in the wee hours of Sunday morning after heating up what was left of the carcass in the microwave.

And then Sunday evening Ed barbecued steaks for the family, cooking mine rare as I prefer, with the juices running red. It wasn't exactly the same. No. We were sitting down as a family with a set table and several dishes besides the meat. I used normal table manners to eat a piece smaller than the thigh of that chicken. I ate at a sedate pace (at least partially due to the steak being far less tender than the chicken) but something in me felt just the same about every bite of that steak as I had about every bite of that chicken.

I'm both dreading and a bit fascinated by the prospect of what my dreams are likely to offer up to me after I spent some ten hours feasting my eyes on thousands of images conjured out of the bowels of the internet with search terms like: blood, blood sacrifice, giving birth, war, blood transfusion, meat, meals, feasts, Vlad the Impaler, Dracula, vampire, hunting, butchering,....

If you click on the word blood wherever it appears in the poem, you will open an image relevant to the thought contained in that line and thus get a very small taste of what I've been feeding my muse.

4 tell me a story:

Susan Helene Gottfried 10/08/2007 12:33 PM  

This is heavy stuff, Joy Renee. Wow. I have The Historian up in the next five books I'm supposed to read; let's see how it affects me.

Jamie 10/08/2007 12:58 PM  

Wow, that is all I have to say.

Ann 10/08/2007 2:19 PM  

Awesome poem, very powerful. I've been told that I should read the Historian, but haven't tried yet. As for the steak and the chicken, red meat is the best source for b vitamins. And there's a reason chicken soup is so recommended for colds (and not just for the garlic and the veggies, I'm betting the chicken is equally important).
I wouldn't worry too much about it (have you ever been on prednisone-oy, that can make you so hungry. I was on that once and I swear, I would get hungry...while eating).
Have a good week! :)

Anonymous,  10/09/2007 7:42 AM  

Blood affects us in so many ways..Very disturbing post..

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