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Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Plum(b) Line to the Centre

Leading to the center

is a plumb-line of plums,

purple skins dusted with white bloom.


Plum(b) me a line and I'll follow it forever.

As I pace the path I pick up a plum

and sink my teeth into its soft flesh.


I go alone to the center,

following the path

to the dot marking the spot

where it all stops.


The center is this:

when you come to it

even one tiny step more

will take you beyond it.

Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Introvert Goes Out

Being mature and pretty much civilized by now, I no longer do this. But for many years I never went to a party without a book in my purse, just in case.


Sometimes I had no need of it and let it remain nestled at the bottom of my owl-trimmed hippie tote bag or crammed

into a fancier, more delicate handbag—depending on the type of party.


But what comfort it gave me to know that I could retreat if I had to. I could find a corner and blot out my feelings by immersing myself in, say, Jay Gatsby's disastrous attempts to manage his own social life.


The dangers of a party were twofold: No one would love me (by which I meant no one would find me interesting enough to talk to). Or someone would be drawn to me but would be the wrong person and I wouldn't be smart enough to know the difference.


The solution, which took decades to emerge, was to recognize finally my own worth and not to look for it in others' eyes. Now I can attend parties without a book.


Well, maybe a Sudoku or two tucked into my pocket, just in case.


Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Half-Answered Prayers

How can you ever tell if a prayer's been answered—

whether half-ly or wholly?


First, there's the time factor.

No one says an answer has to be immediate.

And by the time the answer arrives

(in whole or in part)

you may well have forgotten asking in the first place;

thus you don't recognize it as the answer.


So that's the time factor.


And then there's that other element:

the answer may not be what you expected.

May, in fact, be "no."

So although it is an answer,

you don't recognize it as such.

And thus you might doubt the efficacy

of your prayers.


But prayers are not in vain,

for the answers are not the point.

Whenever you marshal your feelings

and thoughts and dreams and needs

and wishes

(your prayers, in short, for yourself and others),

you send the message to the Universe:

I am here. I see. I am listening.

I am paying attention.


Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Poetic Bias

Now let me get this straight.

It is the poets who tell us

that poetry is the ultimate raison d'etre.

Without poetry, say the poets,

we cannot live

or if we do live our lives are diminished,

dull, dimmed.

Only through poems do we soar.


Let's take a moment here to breathe.

Deep breath, everyone.

Do I not detect a conflict of interest?

Is it not to the poet's advantage

to convince us of the power and glory

of her poem?

I sense a bias, a parti pris.

Here we have the poet—

a whiz with words, I must admit—

manipulating those words

in the service of a quite self-serving notion.

Those of us without such verbal fluency

are powerless to rebut the poet's argument.

There's something wrong here.


May I be given the words

to explore this question

at some future time.



Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Examining the Life

"The unexamined life is not worth living," said some pundit whose name I should probably know. I don't like being told things like this—strictures that exhort me to do this or that. But I do agree with this one. Here's the problem.


By the time you get around to this, by the time you're ready to start examining your life, it's quite likely that you will have lost or mislaid the tools you need for the task: memory, for example, or mental acuity sufficient to hold more than one thought at a time.


My mind is drifting off. Last week my 12-year-old grandson needed help with his math homework, which was about multiplying and dividing in the metric system—in other words, moving decimals around. I used to be a whiz at this sort of thing. My sister Sari was not. She would do some computation and then announce that the answer was either 923; 9,230, or 92,300. Or maybe 92.3 or 9.23. We used to tease her, but no one really cared that she was deficient here because 1) others could come up with an exact figure when it was needed and 2) she acknowledged this deficiency just as she led her entire life: with humour and grace.


Anyway, I felt my own deficiency while working with my grandson. I finally told him, "If you'd asked me this five years ago I could have helped you figure it out. But I just can't do it now."


Well, well. Well, well, welcome to the new brain that resides in my skull. Is this how it will be from now on, or will it get worse?


When I travel on our public transit I have to keep my wits about me to avoid going in the wrong direction. Or I get off the train and don't know which way to go on the platform. Or I can no longer figure out the most efficient route. The whole thing has become a crap shoot. And believe you me, this has not gone unnoticed. DinoVino WineScribe, with the eagle eye of a potential caretaker, is alert to every misstep, although he is circumspect about telling me what he observes.


Withdrawal is another part of this new stage of my life. I often don't want to interact with others. I am increasingly aware of my good luck in having DinoVino in my life. When I talk to friends who are alone, divorced and/or widowed, a number of them without children, I feel their occasional intense loneliness, a condition that was barely noticeable during their productive years, when they were in the work force, but that can become depressing as they feel marginalized, shunted aside by the Action People of the world.


Oh yes. The invisibility thing. The devalued thing. Doctors seem to be particularly unable to hear older female patients. A friend of mine who has more body awareness than anyone else I know recently had a general anaesthetic for a complicated dental problem. When the pre-pubescent anaesthetist entered the room, she said, "Here is the best place for you to find a vein for me," tapping the back of her left hand. He said, "How would you know?" and proceeded to jab her eight times for a vein, leaving her with tears running down her face, her arm black and blue. Finally she said, "If you don't use this spot that I told you about at the beginning, there will be big trouble." He tried that spot and—lo and behold!—it worked.


He hadn't believed her at the start because she was old. A woman. Hardly even there, as far has he was concerned. Just one more anonymous, ignorant female patient.


In many ways I don't mind being invisible. But it is nonetheless a wrench to recognize how peripheral I am to the world—to my children with their busy lives, to my nieces and nephews who have traumas and crises of their own. And I know it is inevitable. Mete and proper, as they say. Certainly to be expected. But I still have to wonder: where did I go?


As I say, I am losing the tools needed to examine my life, both the present and the past. Nonetheless, I try to use what remains to me: time and solitude.


I remember when I used to write wry little essays on hesitating at the gate of age. Well, I went through the gate (there was really no option) and it snapped shut behind me. Now I'm locked in. Or is it locked out?


Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor