Tag Archives: Loneliness

Clementine: Gone

Clementine 03

(Photo by Laura Baker)

My last poem Clementine: Return would have made more sense had I first posted the poem Clementine: Gone.  Oh, well: I goofed.  As I suggested in my last post, when Clementine disappeared, I felt an intensified loneliness.  My only companion was gone, who knew where.  I hoped she would return, even though I thought it unlikely.  Clementine’s departure felt permanent, and I could not trust in the possibility that she would return.  Now you may understand better the ebullient tone of the previous poem, welcoming her upon her return.

CLEMENTINE: GONE

Spindly-legged spider—
I cannot see
where you have gone;
the corners are empty
in every room.

Clementine: Return

Clementine 02

(photograph by Laura Baker)

Clementine would disappear for days, and then reappear in the same or a different corner.  I could not see any web against the whiteness of the shower insert, but I knew a web must be there, for Clementine didn’t walk on the wall but seemed to walk in air close to the wall.  I wondered what she ate, for she was slow, spun no web to catch insects, and there were no insects (that I could see) for her to catch.  When she left I felt her absence, like after you say good-bye to a friend who has come to visit.  Her return always brought a strange sense of relief.

CLEMENTINE: RETURN

Welcome, Clementine!
I am glad
for your visit!
How I have hoped
you were well.
And here you are,
looking well!
Can you stay
awhile?
You left without notice
(you know),
and equally came.
But I am glad
for your visit!
Please, stay
awhile.
I am needing to go
to town this morning,
though. You’ll wait here
till I return?
Oh, good.
So glad
for your visit!

Hello Clementine

Clementine 01

(photograph by Laura Baker)

Some years ago, during a very dark time in my life, I lived alone in a small apartment.  In the bathroom the wallpaper border was peeling from the old paint, and mildew grew on the ceiling.  My clothes sat in neat piles on the floor inside a big duffle bag.  Parts of my life had crumbled despite my best efforts to hold everything together.  The weeks and months dragged on as I laid staring at the ceiling night after night, wondering how I had come to be here and where I was going.  I felt utterly alone.  But during the early weeks I discovered a quiet companion in a corner of the shower: a spider.  My Charlotte to her Wilber.  I called her Clementine.  I could have casually killed her to avoid her silky creepiness, for I don’t care for spiders.  Instead, in my loneliness, I greeted Clementine fondly each morning and evening, and missed her when she disappeared for a day or two.

This and the next five poems I post will chronicle my brief relationship with Clementine.

HELLO CLEMENTINE

A spindly-legged spider
hovers upside-down
above me, in the corner—
I don’t know what she eats
in this tidy little shack;
it’s only the two of us—
she faces away, but
I know she is only pretending
to not watch me.
Part of me squeams
to squash her:
three squares of toilet tissue
would do. But,
she is quiet and harmless;
this is her shack, too.
And, it’s only the two of us.

(Unfortunately I never took a picture of the real Clementine.  My daughter, Laura, took this and subsequent spider photographs of garden spiders around our house.)

Where Does Love Go?

IMG_7083

So many people feel so lonely.  Even the most gregarious are not immune.  Even the most stoic of intellects must acknowledge that these feelings are real.  Hurt feelings, disappointments, resentments, traumas, betrayals, sarcasm, silence: they all push us apart to such distances that we wonder whether healing is possible.  Contemplating love and loneliness as I walked on Rabbit Lane years ago, I wrote this poem.  I have great hopes that people can find other people to love and be loved by, and thus heal the deep hurt of loneliness.  (Photo credit: Laura Baker.)

WHERE DOES LOVE GO?

Where does love go
after long years limp by?

Love burns and love binds
in the moment of beginning.
Love cleaves,
then tip-toes cautiously away,
leaving you wondering where it went,
and how it is that it ever was.

One day you saw love
slinking off
to hide behind so many hurts.
Another day you saw love
rushing and crashing
against rage’s rocky shore.
The last day you saw love
huddling, withdrawn,
under a dark, shrouding silence.

Why does love go
after long years grind past?
And what do you do
when it’s gone?