It may seem like there are enough of us that we couldn’t possibly matter to each other. We feel anonymous: one hidden in a mass of seven billion. We can pop out of our hole, do what we want, and pop back in without consequence. We can toss litter or scowl at a stranger. It seems easy. No one will know who did these things, except the eyes reflected in the mirror. But even that one person is enough.
The truth is, we are strings of a web. Tug on one and the ripples are felt everywhere. The litter you see on the ground is the litter you dropped years ago. So pick it up. Each scowl you receive from a stranger is a scowl you once gave. So smile at a stranger. There is no free pass, and you cannot convince me otherwise. You don’t have to like a person to love them, so choose to show love. Yes, love.
We sail this sea together. There is no other boat coming to meet us. Hold together or sink in the storm. Feel the ripple in the strings of another. Stop their rippling and feel the rippling inside you cease.
As a child I was told that, as a woman, “letting yourself go” meant not wearing makeup. A woman who “let herself go” was one who frequently wore comfortable clothes and let her hair fall naturally. This kind of “let-go woman” certainly didn’t wear heals and nylons. And who would want a woman like that? She had let herself go.
And yet, as a woman, I feel that following this line of thinking is one of the things that would indeed let myself go, because it is not who I am.
I felt a renewed acceptance of my body when I chose to let my hair turn gray naturally. I wear makeup only a couple of times a year. And I don’t own a pair of heels. I keep my fingernails short because it’s easier for me to type this way. These just aren’t things that fit with my particular expression of womanhood or femininity. It’s okay to pick and choose from the possibilities.
There is no reason to adopt a norm that doesn’t quite fit with our sensibilities, just as there’s no reason to rebel against a norm just for the sake of rebelling. We all have better things to do than think about these things, after all, so I will keep this short.
If I had conformed to the archetype from my childhood that describes how a woman should be, I would already be long gone and let-go, and what you would have instead is a façade of Kat, rather than the real, bona fide Kat. And this is the idea of womanhood I want to demonstrate for my daughter: she can create her own beautiful brand of womanhood apart from cultural expectation if she doesn’t let go of herself.
I’ve been writing, writing, writing lately. Poetry and prose. Short forms and long forms. Individual pieces to send to journals and collections of pieces intended for books.
Being A Poem is the first poem in the book and does the work of setting the tone for what is to come next. It’s a special poem to me – I love how it creates a new and rather surreal world. I love that it shows (not tells!) the need for communication beyond words, which is what poetry can do. And I love the ending: we are each a poem, and like a poem, can be only borrowed, not owned. I hope you enjoy the poem.
Being a Poem
I opened a poem – crawled inside,
felt its rough edges around smooth, concave walls.
I – the little spoon – curled knees to chin and speechless
in the warmth as I dreamed.
Cautiously, I crept out (time later)
and steadied myself on the Moon.
The poem still flowed through me like blood
as if I had been born from it.
Its rhythm in my veins brought a spark
to my eyes and a sway
to my hips –
The poem was everywhere I looked.
It was grass bending in a breeze
that traveled the world,
reaching with fingers of wind
to gently slip over its green length
from broad base to icicle point.
The poem was breath
as my lungs expanded like inverted trees
transforming atmosphere and lightly releasing it
like a song.
I touched myself as if touching the poem
with the mastery of self-recognition
only to realize that
I am a poem
that stirs the souls of the lost and found
before sailing like a wisp
of one who cannot be owned
-Kat Lehmann, Moon Full of Moons
(please also visit my VerseWrights poetry page, which is periodically updated)
It’s a question I am sometimes asked. Although let’s be clear: Moon Full of Moons isn’t really about the Moon. It’s about finding happiness after deep sadness. It’s about acceptance and healing. The Moon is simply a symbol of renewal, a beacon of hope and light when things seem lost to darkness.
But if you ask me the question “Why the Moon?”, first I will answer “Oh, many reasons…” and then I will tell you this:
Everything in nature renews and exists as part of a dynamic balance, from the mechanisms that sustain a cell to the life cycle of stars. The Moon’s phases are one of these beautiful cycles of nature. Humans are a part of nature, not a spectator of nature. Our ability to alter and damage the environment shows we are an integral part of nature’s balance, not outside of it.
Since I am a part of nature, nature’s cycles remind me that I am continually renewing too. A sliver of Crescent Moon after a series of dark nights helps me to trust in the inevitability of happiness. Opposites need each other in order to exist. There will be sadness, but there will be happiness again too. You can believe in this like you believe in a law of physics. And believing it matters.
The Moon also reminds me of the incomprehensible scale of our reality. Humans are a relatively small part of the universe, and the universe is in balance. Our concerns, which can feel overwhelming at times, barely matter when viewed from a perspective beyond our atmosphere. In times of trouble, the Moon is a reminder that there is a place not too far away where none of this really matters. It gives a moment of deep breathing that clears the mind. We can always begin again, like the Moon.
Next time you look up at the Moon, think of the ways you are continually renewing and reinventing yourself. Because you are. It’s just a matter of what you become.
May the Moon be a symbol of hope on your journey, whether it is a journey of healing, recovery, acceptance, or just becoming more of the person you want to be. We are all always coming into being, never finished. When you feel you have lost the way, let go of the old cycle so the new cycle can begin. May we be a bit wiser for the wear. May we walk the circle that leads back to ourselves.
On the highways, everyone is in a hurry. People are angry and impatient. No one has time for kindness. No one can breathe in the fast pace. Strangers become obstacles to overcome, not individuals with loved ones awaiting them.
Last night, my almost 10-year old son Sunboy came home from school moping and sad, completely deflated without explanation. At first, I gave him space to breathe, but when he continued to sulk, I asked him to sit next to me.
“It may seem like you are in an ocean, or a lake, or a pond,” I said, “But really you are sitting in a puddle. If you stand up, you will be out of it. If you lift your face for a moment, you will see the Sun. And the Sun is a daily reminder that we can begin again.”
I held him. “What is in your mind right now isn’t true. Nothing has changed. We all love you. You just need to stand up from your puddle. Go have your shower and wash this day off you. Tomorrow you can start again with the Sun.”
Sunboy said, “But when I get out of the shower, it will still be today.”
“Well,” I laughed, “You could always go to bed early if you want.”
“Sleep is like teleporting to tomorrow,” he replied. When he finished his shower, he was ready to start again, even though it was still today.
Dear busy, angry people on the highway:
Like you, we strangers have loved ones waiting for us. When you reach yours, please stand up from your puddle or have a shower to wash the day from you. Then teleport to tomorrow and start again with the Sun. We can always begin again.
A tanka for the multitaskers who somehow manage to find time to explore personal passions: creativity, meditation, endeavors of the mind, body, and soul. It is okay to keep carving out moments for ourselves; they make us better at everything else we do. Enjoy!
I sneak back to find
right where I left them
American Tanka 26 (Feb 2016)
Added to the Published Poetry page.
This little poem came to me all at once as I drove down the road one morning. I spoke it into the air to capture it. At first I thought it was the beginning of a poem, or part of a poem, but the more I tried to add to it, I realized it was already whole and complete. There was nothing more I could say without smudging this simple description.
Eventually it became part of the “New Moon” chapter of my book, which includes poems about sadness and despair. We need a little darkness to more fully understand what is meant by the light that follows. A friend who had lost a spouse said it captured death for her as she had experienced it those years ago.
Most of my poetry doesn’t rhyme, but I like the way the rhyme in this gives it an ironic feel, like what a Seuss-Poe mashup poem might look like.
he popped away
and nobody knew where to
it will happen to us
and one day will happen to you
–Moon Full of Moons (2015)
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