Thursday, January 5, 2017

Poet/Painter Gabriele Glang: Menopause Through Poetry & Painting

Christal Cooper

**First two photos of Gabriele Glang attributed to James Martin

Guest Blogger Gabriele Glang:
Thinking About Menopause Through Art

The poem:


is a second chance
at puberty: a circus
of feats not yet dared.

Desires careen
through the weeks, the crisp whip’s slap
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
consolingly. But

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 –

From "Blue 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.

                  Untameable Heart

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? 

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