what is it like to live by oneself?
I can no longer remember, or if I ever
truly did. Surely it can’t have been
in the short month intervening after I
graduated from college and then got married,
believing that was the only way I might
finally make a life, something of my own.
Neither can it have been in the years
I went to graduate school, the first time
after my second child was born; and then again
when my third child turned three— Roommates
down the hall sharing the bathroom,
sharing the fridge and kitchen (though also
cleaning duties). And at home, with growing
children and extended family, never any
door that one could keep closed for too long.
I didn’t really mind, but also welcomed
summers when I could slip away by myself
to visit a friend, go to a writing retreat,
work free of the coils of schedules and
routines for two short weeks. Oh the joys
of breakfast at 11 and bedtime at 3, a walk
with no other purpose than the walk itself.
On the other hand, my pathologist friend
in Chicago, who’d lived by himself for over
thirty years, sometimes told me how he wished
for human sounds in the middle of the night,
in the empty bedrooms of his tastefully
furnished flat— how he’d scan the trees
bereft of birds and their call and response,
how sometimes he’d flush the toilet in the guest
bathroom at random times of day, just to hear
the water gurgling before eddying away.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
- Listening to Piazzolla’s Tango Etudes
- Eating Dried Fish With Our Hands
- Dear nostalgia,
- What We Look For
- Without Translation
- Heart Weighted With Cares
- Tableaux Vivants
- Listening to Chopin’s Prelude in D-flat Major, Op. 28, No. 15
- Dear solitude,
- Landscape, with Notes of Red
- Blue Stone Blues
- Landscape, with a Glimpse of the Soul as it Leaves the Body
- How I Came to Writing
- When does the hunger abate;
- Dear errant winds at dusk,
- Dear scarlet-flushed, hydraulic,
- Monday’s News
- Landscape, with Traces of Prior Events
- On the Nature of Things
- Spell Against Grey
- Landscape, with Castoffs on the Sidewalk
- Sleepless Ghazal
- Last Call
- Delivery Confirmation
- Landscape, with Early Frost and a Dream Interior
- Campus Elegy
- Ghazal: Chimerae
- Maguindanao Ghazal
- Insurgent Song
- Paper Ghazal
- Ghazal of the Transcendental
- Hot Lyric
- On the sense of danger or foreboding, the prickling
- Postcard from the Labyrinth
- Letter to One Seeking Flight
- Unbelievable Ends
- In the chapel of perpetual adoration,
- Private: Landscape, with Deer Eating its Afterbirth
- Night Rain
- Conversation that Ends with a Dream of Accounting
- Lyric on the Edge of Winter
- Paper Cut #2
- And once again,
- Prayer Among the Stones
- Call and Response
- Dark Prayer
- Song of Snow
- Santa Milagrita
- Song without Strings
- Morning Song
3 Replies to “Dear solitude,”
How I love this poem! I get up early, very early, to have alone time, and I often think of my grandmother, who after my grandfather died, suddenly found herself with more alone time than she ever wanted.
I love that image of the man flushing the toilet in his guest bathroom! And “coils of schedules”–exactly how I experience it.
I know that some day I will be free of the schedules’ coils, and I’ll have more alone time than I want or can use, so I try to appreciate the phase of my life that I’m in now.
Yet I still find myself thinking of monks and Quakers and other communities of silence and contemplation.
Thanks for this poem!
THE OTHER SOLITUDE
On my hammock hour, I watch shadows
jump off my porch walls, talk with them,
and watch them grow tall at sundown.
Dusk and the quick sunset swallow them
into a night I hope would not be bivouac
cold. My boys are too young to be cut down.
I don’t need medals or a flag if they come
home at all—there’s a law that says I could
not use them flags for blankets on cold days.
Nor give them medals to their dear mother
who has gone ahead to happy hunting grounds.
Medals? I’d rather have tin mess cups for mugs.
—Albert B. Casuga