I rather enjoy the restrictions forced by form: a sonnet, haiku, limerick, or ballad. Even Twitter’s original 140 character limit was a good challenge, requiring every word to pull its weight. ( My tweets felt flabbier when they doubled the allowed number.) And now, what joy! I just discovered a website devoted to sonnets.* This poem is (I hope) uncharacteristically bleak: I’m quite stubborn in my insistence on redemption. But the last 2 lines are at least a little thoughtful, and I can imagine them leading to more self-reflection.
As the incredible lyricist Richard Rogers wrote, …” nothing came from nothing, nothing ever could…” Likewise, this somber sonnet did not spring from nothing and looking back I can identify the seeds from which it sprang. The positive and negative influences which fostered this sonnet are, first the positive, a favorite CS Lewis quote:
and the negative being Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess”, which I first read almost 6 decades ago.
My Last Duchess https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43768/my-last-duchess
Hollow Eggs The lacquered eggs? I keep them in a bowl, Locked in a cabinet, safe out of reach Of avaricious eyes. Yes, like my soul, Safe, out of reach of those who’d like to leech The life that I’ve safeguarded over the years. A shell around the heart’s no guarantee. One slip, one fall – and what good then are tears? The murrelet builds her nest where none can see. Hollow? Yes, I sucked out the insides. But, savor these rich colors and designs. Each one a jewel. I take great pride That they remain unbroken. All are mine. Still, the eggs that I collected as a boy Seemed heavy, warm and redolent of joy.
Vulnerability is a vital and healthy aspect of all intimate relationships. But, truth is, once we have been wounded a few times, vulnerability seems foolhardy. As you wouldn’t hand just anyone the keys to your home, neither should you hand anyone access to your heart. A shopkeeper and a trusted friend have different privileges. But within the accepted boundaries of the relationship, vulnerability must be extended. An intimate relationship where vulnerability is withheld does not allow for the free exchange of that life which is so necessary to keep it thriving. But vulnerability cannot thrive where acceptance, mercy and forgiveness are withheld. The knowledge that our flawed, imperfect self is accepted and safe within a relationship is what makes for healing, growth and life. And, of course, the unassailable knowledge that we are accepted, loved and forgiven in Christ, by God, gives us the courage to go and do likewise.
As the maxim says, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omlete. Live dangerously; choose life.