Friday, September 21, 2007

Poetry: Approaching the Veil

Someone asked me why I don’t put my own poetry up here more often. After much probing self-analysis I have come to the conclusion that it was pure, shallow selfishness that was keeping me from sharing more poetry here. The logic went like this:

I should be careful about putting poetry here because I want to be published. Some publishers are reluctant to publish something that has already been published, and they might consider this as publishing.


I really want to be published so that lots of people can see my stuff. Partially because I think I speak to some people and also because I crave fame and approval.


I will hog all my stuff to myself in the hopes that someday I’ll get the chance to share it under the label of a publication which proves that “people who know something about poetry” agree that my stuff is worth publishing and sharing.

thus (and here’s the faulty logic)

I am keeping my stuff hidden instead of sharing it, supposedly because I want to share it.


Well, anyway, I am trying to squelch my pride. If people want to read my stuff (badly enough that they would actually ASK about it), I should let them, by golly! Who is it that I am saving it for—people who MATTER????? Who matters more than the people who care about me and/or who are hungry for what I’m saying?

So, I apologize. You, my dear, loyal blog-readers (most of whom I can’t identify because you don’t comment but I know you’re out there because I see you in the stats) deserve to see what I’ve been writing, even before it gets the approval of some all-powerful status-granter in the form of an official publication. I will mend my ways.

So for today, I will give you “Approaching the Veil,” which was the very first poem I wrote as an adult (and therefore is my inaugural foray into writing). I can look at it now and see its flaws, but it was a good beginning for me, I think. I felt very proud of the tanka structure (several stanzas of haiku) at the time, although I know a little more about haiku now and realize it wasn’t all that appropriate. Nevertheless, it helped me make a beginning.

Though a good poem should speak for itself and suffers from too much introduction, I still want to tell you a little about this one. I tried to combine two different, powerful situations into one. One was my mother’s eagerness to get beyond the veil (well, die) after she had a beautiful near-death experience, and the other was my first experience at the temple, which was very deeply moving to me. The ladies who helped me were elderly and beautiful, and I still remember how they looked into my face as they whispered their words of holiness.

This was published in Orson Scott Card’s Vigor newsletter and, later, Irreantum (I think. I haven’t kept very good track. Maybe it was Exponent II.) Shortly after it appeared in one of those publications, I got a nice e-mail from someone I didn’t know asking if she could read it in her big meeting of temple-workers. That was really cool.

Approaching the Veil
by Darlene Young

I lean on tiptoe,
Taut, poised at the edge,
Eyes prickled with stars.

Spirit percolates.
I am brimming, wakening,
Fresh-whetted and ripe.

You, god-whisperers,
Hover like angel mothers,
Priestesses of light.

My lips follow yours,
Invocation and blessing,
Strange sounds of power.

A pause, and I hear
Through your reverence for the Words,
Sounds of rushing wind.

Holy escorts
Midwives to the quickening
Reach, grasp, launch

I am beautiful, aflame,

Burnished bright and fierce.
Alleluia my birthcry,
I greet pentecost.


Emily M. said...


So, I'm curious: what flaws do you see in it now? Because I'm not seeing any... How do you analyze your own work?

Jennifer B. said...

I love this. You sent me a copy, but I think the end is different. Now I will have to check. Hope to see more!

Darlene said...

Thanks, Emily.

Well, for one thing, the metaphors get a little mixed up and are pushed a little too far at times. ("Midwives to the quickening"?)

I was trying so hard to be poetic that I think I fell off the side at times.