Such is life

I live in the borderland of grief and joy. It’s tempting
to fall apart. I have lived on the lip
of insanity. Like a sundial
I paint to the ever changing
light. As a shadow
such is life.

None of the words in the poem above are mine. It’s a combistory, this time combining one sentence each from four written pieces and a clock. The authors, in order of presentation, are:

Valerie Bacharach, Gratitude Journal in Vox Populi

J.I. Kleinberg, in her found poem “It’s a Sullen Year”

Rumi, in a meme by Michael Meade – Mosaic Voices

Artist Jenny Reyneke on Instagram

Anonymous, captured in a photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Valerie Bacharach’s “Gratitude Journal” sparked my New Year’s Eve post which inadvertently unleashed/released a torrent of grief. Writing about her own mother’s journey of decline and death and what she went through supporting her, Bacharach moved me deeply, moved me into that borderland of grief and joy.

Last year brought so many losses I became overwhelmed by grief. In the aftermath, joy was often difficult to access.

The title of Bacharach’s essay refers to the notebook she kept while she was walking her mother home. I didn’t have time to journal when I was on the island with Mom last year, but I took pictures often of moments I wanted to remember.

Her words “Inside were lines about seeing a quarter moon, one goldfinch perched on the birdfeeder,” catapulted me to the morning I sat on my sister’s frosty patio, struck by the moon’s ephemeral presence above the garden shed.

Trace of moon above Parksville, BC, March 16, 2020

I shortened Bacharach’s sentence so it would work better in the combistory, but it was the whole sentence that captivated me and opened a floodgate of memory:

I live in the borderland of grief and joy, the opposition of them woven into my cells, forming their own double helix that binds them to my every breath.

It’s a beautiful essay. I urge you to read it. Check out all of the linked pieces, if you have time. That’s the whole point of this combinatory play.

6 Responses to “Such is life”

  1. Joan Conway

    As always this combistory (thank you for introducing me to a new word) is provocative, filled with much creative juice to ponder and drink in. Just love what you’re doing with these linked pieces and where they take me when I check out the sites. A feast!

    • commatologist

      Combistory is my invented word, Joan. It plays off combination and commatology. I’m glad you like the pieces and I’m delighted you follow the links! xo

  2. carin

    Your combistory poems lead me to such beautiful discoveries. Thank you.

    And that essay… powerful, reminding me of what I went through with my own mum some years ago, the hard decisions, the zero time to make them, the guilt because every decision is never all you want it to be, because you can never give all you want to give.

    I hope time is working its magic of slow comfort, Leslie. xo

  3. commatologist

    It is, Carin, thank you, and thank you for describing the experience so perfectly. xo

  4. theresa

    “it was the whole sentence that captivated me and opened a floodgate of memory”: isn’t it amazing when a sentence can do that? And yours do. You are a lovely writer.


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