All Souls…

“A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry.”

Soul Cake

Today is the feast day known as All Souls’ Day.

A while back I shared a poem I had written for my grandfather (for all grandfathers, of course, but especially for him).

Today I’d like to share a letter I wrote to a man I never actually met….and never will.

Encouraged by Angi Sullins– the magnificent Muse of Duirwaigh Studios– in her Once Upon a Time online workshop, I wrote this letter to my Benefactor, Douglass S. Parker.

Why would I write a letter to someone I had never met and never will?

I think the letter explains it all.

Dear Doug,

I never got to meet you.

We only “met” in email correspondence, and one dream, though brief and suddenly gone. I meant to visit, for your retirement celebration. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I should have. Because now you are gone. You died. And I didn’t know. I tried to get in touch with you again, to share news, but never heard from you after some time in 2007. So I’d like to try this- writing to you. Thanking you. Learning from and with you. Exploring together worlds others plop down cash or credit card or library card and cast away or return or pass on. But we- you and I and others, I think- we go there. We understand the local language, customs, rituals, and more. I want to expand and delve and share what I’ve learned. From them. From you. From myself. You seemed interested, intrigued, by my enthusiasm. I think I got you excited, too, new angles to approach, new worlds to find. I hope in all of my energetic, “look at this!” messages another message came through. “Thank you!” Thank you for showing me the first map to a world I had visited but didn’t realize I could explore, or even stay a while. A map. A key, unlocking new doors, in learning, in creating. I made so, so many more connections, however brief. I stepped out the door, key in hand, and headed down an unknown path, Bilbo and Frodo and Dorothy and Lyra and you by my side- your footprints in the dust, the dirt, the path, next to mine. You’d already set out, and left a lampost to guide me, to show me the path, There, and Back Again. You left me Lookfar, for the watery route, for finding, alone, my shaddowy self, my gebbeth. You left me a mirror, a couple of Oracles, to question, to pass through the gates, to seek the answers in my soul. To show my self my soul. To show- not tell- me, all I needed, all I need, is my self. To open that door, to return home, to draw my own maps, write my own adventures, and share them. With them. With you. For you. For me.

Thank you, Doug. Thank you.

Much love and gratitude to you, sir.

Love,

>Kerrie

Rings…

11 Years…

…that’s how long it’s been since a ring was placed on the finger of this dryad, binding her with metal,  her fate sealed with symbols, capturing her in her form with a name…

…but not to be lost in the shapes that were to come, to grow, to branch-out, to evolve…

…ever-more…

The woodcutter needs his trees, the dryad needs her tree, bits are cut away, new seeds are planted, growth and decay must occur…

…both…

…together…

…ever-after…

…to be continued…

********

Today is the eleventh anniversary of the day my husband and I were married- same day, even!- surrounded by willow branches & ferns, by family and friends.  Some have gone, some have been born, some have been lost, some have been found.  New names have been given, new shapes have been slipped into… and old ones left behind.  I still don’t know “who I may some day be.”  We are still together- eleven years married, almost eighteen years since we first met.  A bit worn, a bit tired, a bit bent, and a bit overwhelmed with Life’s Challenges.  But together.

We’ve come this far…

…and there’s still far to go…

In Love and Life, my Deer-Hart…

…I’ll meet you in the Dark Woods…

…let’s count some rings…

********

My dearest love, my gull, my bard,

Today I am declaring to the world my true devotion to you.  As a personal sign of this, I am taking your surname, McNay.  I know that you have felt uneasy about this, about taking away a name that I have had my whole life, a name that others know me by; in a way, my identity thus far.

In some cultures, a person takes many names in his or her life, as a sign that they have left a part of their life behind them, and are moving on to the next part of their life.

In Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife, Maggie Black and Crow, a Trickster spirit from the Rincons of Arizona, have the following discourse:

“Then tell me who you are,” Crow said, “and why you have come to this land of mine.”

“That’s two questions,” Maggie pointed out. 

He ignored this.  “Quick now.  Who are you?”

Maggie shrugged.  “I’m many different people,” she said.  “So I guess I’m a bit of a shape-shifter too.  In West Virginia, I’m Emil Black’s granddaughter.  In L.A., I’m Nigel Vanderlin’s ex-wife; in London, I’m Tatiana Ludvik’s crazy friend.  I’m a vagabond writer to my friends in Holland; a sweet summer affair to a sculptor in Florence; a hopeless klutz to every gym teacher I’ve ever had-do you want me to go on?”

“Those are just the shapes.  What’s underneath?  The essence, that doesn’t change from shape to shape.  That’s what a shape-shifter has to know or you lose yourself.  You can’t get back.  You’re trapped in one shape, and you can’t get out.”

She frowned, thinking about this.

“What are you at the core, Black Maggie?”  He smiled viciously.  “I don’t believe you know.”

To many of the people in this room, and to others who could not be here today, I too am many different people, with many different names:  I was Chicken to my grandfather, Leo; Kerrie-Anna-Banana and Kerrie-the-Strawberry to my aunts Joan and Jane, respectively; Marie to the Roman Catholic Church; Diana to my Anne-girl, Sheila; Angel, Doc, and KC to my family from Wheelock; Perrina to the virtual world; Fairy-girl to the musical spirits of Arizona; and kerriefairy and Princess Kerrie to you, my Deer Hart, my Little Prince.  I am all of these people, and none of them.  I am myself, though, not a name or a title.

When I went to Arizona last year, I did not yet know the steps to the dance I was to perform.  I found my dance on the paths of Thumb Butte, alone with Nature and Time to guide my arms and feet.  When I met you, I did not yet know who I was, or what role I was to perform in your life.  Since then, I have found my words, I have found my self, I have found my role.  I was a bit afraid of becoming “wife” and how that word, the simple change of my name, would affect my life.   I am still curious, though no longer afraid.

I may know who I am, but not who I may some day be.  But I know that with you by my side, we may discover these, and many other things, together.  May that journey last forever and a day, longer if possible.

 

 

103_0357

 

May 31, 2003 – May 31, 2014

 

Grandfather…

Just because…

…I miss you, Grampa Leo…

IMG_20130619_104823_774

GRANDFATHER

Grandfather, why are there no tales of you?
Of Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers
Even of your wife,
There are plenty.
I know you’ve seen the fairies, too.
I can tell when I see that sparkle in your eye as you talk to your friend,
The one with the candy-gas-station, as we called it,
Who trusts me to count out a dollar worth of candy.
You told me tales of falling skies, of girls with roses,
Of two little sisters- one red haired, one brown.
Those Irish eyes always smiled, handsomer than a prince’s toothy grin.
Walks to that candy stand were like entering the treasury,
choosing only some treasure to take on the journey in our small sacks.
But the store has been emptied,
no more tales to be heard,
no more your words with new meanings (like beerd, not bird).
You made us laugh, a true bard, indeed,
but no tales to be told of you—

until now…

(c) 2000, Twisting the Glass, by Kerrie Colantonio (McNay)

“Self-Inflicted Fairy Tale”

One more for today… I wrote this poem days before the release of Ever After, and had no idea how close I was to the last line of the film.  The first of a series of three I’ve written so far, this originally untitled poem speaks to me lately, as I live vicariously through the art of others, calling it “seeking inspiration”, instead of making my own.  A bit about the series:

S.I.F.T. Series (Self-Inflicted Fairy Tale)
These poems were actually written in pieces, months apart. The first I wrote days before the premiere of Ever After- I freaked out when I heard the end of the movie, as it was similar to the end of “Self-Inflicted Fairy Tale” and I was afraid people would think I stole it. I’ve even kept the email I sent to my then boyfriend (now husband) in for the date-stamp! The second one I wrote summer 2000, frustrated with computers and their place in my life. I think I actually drew a picture first, then wrote the poem. The last one I wrote in February 2001, at work, just after reading one of the essays in Kate Bernheimer’s book * Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales,* the one on Fitcher’s Bird and Bluebeard, then I realized the sifting is in Cinderella too, and then it’s the initials of my poem series. Weird!

All of them are about my life- the first and last have heavily to do with my work life at the time I wrote them and the dissatisfaction I had with it. I grew up with a heavy interest in fairy tales, to the point I tried to live them. If I had to do chores, I was Cinderella. If I needed to get to sleep, I became Sleeping Beauty. If I felt imprisoned, Rapunzel was my company. In college, I was called Cinderella because I would wear a kerchief on my head and, after I finished washing the floor in my quad, ask my dorm mates if they wanted theirs washed. I was that into it. As I’ve become more interested in adaptations, read the more PC versions, the adult versions, etc., I’ve been trying to find my own identity outside the fairy tales, but cannot associate or write without them. I find writing about real life difficult, or less satisfactory, unless there’s a bit of them there.

Hopefully the words will flow again soon.

********

Continue reading

“Page fright, Dancer’s block…”

I’ve had a lot of “writer’s block” lately (not for lack of ideas- I have too many to complete in my lifetime!), so I thought I would share with you a few of my poems about writing.  They will be included in Cracking the Nut, a collection of poems inspired by ballet stories and dance in general, as well as a revised edition of my first self-published chapbook, Twisting the Glass.  May these hands of silver move across the page again soon.

********

Continue reading

A pantheon of muses…

From one of my many works-in-progress, Hallowing / Hollowing the Ash.*

********

So much to inspire,

    song,

        poetry,

            dance,

                portraiture,

to personify it all would create

        a pantheon

    of muses.

    Their essence,

            the minutae,

when does the inspiration end,

    and the art begin?

© Kerrie McNay, 5/25/08

********

I haven’t yet decided which to use- it’s a collection of poems inspired by myths, legends, and various sacred texts, so either could work.