Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Stripes

"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could." - Louise Erdrich

Karen Louise Erdrich, known as Louise Erdrich, (born June 7, 1954) is an author of novels, poetry, and children's books featuring Native American heritage. She is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renaissance. In April 2009, her novel The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore in Minneapolis.

My Stripes

So I asked of you
this gift, that you would crop me
like a photograph
that the stripes across
my raw red back turn into
breathless new found art
and for one moment
I am unbound and free of
the price paid for life.

November 29, 2009 11:18 AM


  1. I like the poem. Enjoyed the introduction too. Like very much the work of Erdrich, especially The Beet Queen.

  2. chris,
    i love the introduction...the passage by is a shining light to those who are afraid to give out their hearts for fears of it being broken....and then you carried it forward with amplified elegance..the last two lines squeeze the nectar of meaning out of every apple that fell ...the rest are still searching...i guess....with your permission i would like to convey these lines to a couple of people i know...i think it might help them....with your permission ofcourse...

  3. I post no copyright claims. It has long been part of the calling I follow that I own nothing of the creative flow. I participate rather than create. My biggest trouble is to remember that not everyone feels the same. You may of course use anything of mine. Attribution and linkage is requested but not a requisite. My stuff has appeared in the comments to the blogs of others since the beginning.

  4. Wow! This is a keeper. Made me think of Jesus, his humanity...and the garden...his request, ungranted. I love the imagry of this cropping. Oh that we could!!! Cut the cross hatch of scars and reshape them into a frame. But we would stand back to review our handiwork, only to find we are yet the same...criss crossed or square. We are as we should be.

  5. Chris,
    ofcourse, how could i not mention the man on the northern shows in your words the kind of person you are but still asking is a requisite in my domain....i wouldn't want to annoy the intellect of someone...i would feel criminal....i read many blogs(when allowed the time) and try to discover more...obviously there are plenty whose vision of criss-crossing words is beyond belief and splendour...but i haven't found a more honest place than this....

  6. Annie, thank you for your belief in my work.

    Manik, you set the bar quite high for me. Now I have to question my exaggerations. :D I call them creatures of my creative license.

  7. Blerk! It's not your is you!

  8. Oh! frig! i love this quote. i love that she challenges aloneness too. we were just speaking of this as though it might be a shelter. it is no shelter. it is life in a new way. oh, jesus, and that then the apples is all so perfect.

    ok, now i'll read you.

    christopher. it is wonderful. our pain is art, is it not? oh, how it is. friggen brilliant post.


  9. Checked the archives, thought I recognised that one, felt flattered to have had it first. I love the quote too.

  10. Erin, it is a privilege to be party to the brilliance. It is not really my brilliance you know. I practice hard to be ready and sometimes a thing arrives, surprising me too. Sometimes I do certain things on purpose, like using the word "stripes" expecting at least some folks would recognize Christian allusions, but the main image is something that arrives in time for me to finish the poem.

    Lucy, thank you. I forget of course by the time I post because I don't keep that information, where the poem first appeared and if it appeared anywhere else because a few don't. Most of my poems though are tangential replies to the brilliance I find in my friends.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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