CHRIS RICE COOPER is a newspaper writer, feature stories writer, poet, fiction writer, photographer, and painter. She maintains a blog at https://chrisricecooper.blogspot.com. She has a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice and completed all of her poetry and fiction workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry. She, her husband Wayne, sons Nicholas and Caleb, cats Nation and Alaska reside in the St. Louis area.
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Poet/Painter Gabriele Glang: Menopause Through Poetry & Painting
two photos of Gabriele Glang attributed to James Martin
Guest Blogger Gabriele Glang:
About Menopause Through Art
is a second chance
at puberty: a circus
of feats not yet dared.
through the weeks, the crisp whip’s
on elephants’ hides
goading them to stand
on their hind legs, while dropping
huge piles of shit
on a dusty, straw-
covered floor. And high above:
a dancer poses
on a tightrope thin
as air, while those below bate
their collective breath,
waiting to hear that
fatal thud of the body
thrown off balance.
Love means choosing not
to see, my radio croons
what do such songs know
of menopause – that second
chance at love and grace
goading us to fly
only on the wings of dreams –
blindly, weightlessly –
the tightrope‘s high-pitched
call: it's time to run away –
ah! – with the circus –
Silence Abounds. Nocturnes in a minor key,"
by Gabriele Glang
(Palimpsisters Press, 2015).
How I came to write this poem:
One of my dearest
(and among the wisest) friends says: getting old is a privilege - not everyone
gets to experience it. This poem, with its lapidary title, is all about the
mysterious physical and emotional process that maturing women inevitably
experience, sooner or later. Just when we think we've got the hang of things,
our bodies remind us we are NOT in control. No rite of passage is more ominous,
nor accompanied by so much fear, angst, superstition, stereotype.
Distress In the Pond part 2
Well before my own
menopause set in, I began to read up on it. How-to books. What-to-expect books.
I tried to find positive things. There isn't much, frankly. It's all about the
inevitability of gravity and decay. Vanitas, thy name is woman. Menopause might
be considered a school of getting used to the notion of one's own mortality.
All our lives
we're taught - ingrained - to please the opposite sex, to tend our outward
beauty. We are judged - and misjudged - by how we look. Menopause lets us know
it ain't for keeps. We become invisible to the opposite sex. Oh, and by the
way, SEX ... but I'm not going to go there.
Last Summer Love Pastel on paper
So this poem
explores what’s on the other side. Gabriele through the looking glass.
The most positive
thing I discovered in my readings was this: Menopause is a second chance at
puberty. I came to see it as an opportunity to reinvent myself. To experiment,
be a little crazy, try new and weird things, play new roles, learn new skills,
explore latent talents. If I land a flop, I can always blame the hormones - the
MALE hormones, nota bene. My kids have flown the nest and now I can do
all those things I felt I couldn't do because I lacked the time, courage, or
self-confidence to make a fool of myself. I no longer give a fig if I look
ridiculous or act incomprehensibly. Ok, admittedly, my sons might on
occasion tell me I'm embarrassing to them, but they will have to live with
that. More to the point: I can live with that. Tit for tat. After all, I had to
cope with their puberty, too.
With the fact of
my own mortality no longer a mere theoretical possibility - fueled by the
necessity of NOW - I felt suddenly free. Free to leap over my fears, free of
unsatisfied yearnings (e.g., fame and fortune), (relatively) freed of
unrealistic ambitions. The time has come to consider the very next essential
step, whatever that step might be. My first priority is no longer worrying
about how to make others happy, but rather figuring out what makes me happy.
Splash- pastel on paper
And the only
antidote to the terrifying tightrope of not knowing what's next is to take that
proverbial leap of faith into the unknown, catapulting ourselves to the next
stage in our journey through this life.
A Northern Gloaming pastel on paper
What would you do
if you only had one more day to live?