the first thread of my red dress
by Edith Södergran
I had to walk through the solar systems,
before I found the first thread of my red dress.
Already, I sense myself.
Somewhere in space hangs my heart,
sparks fly from it, shaking the air,
to other reckless hearts.
(tr. by Stina Katchadourian)
* * *
I had this poem tabbed in a book, along with some others, as a possibility for today’s Poetry Wednesday. At some point today, I watched apathetically from across the room while twenty-month old Elsa pulled out most of the tabs and stuck them elsewhere around the room, project #50, perhaps, in a series of about 100 projects she accomplished around the house today. None of the projects really took Poetry Wednesday into account, but thankfully, I know better than to expect that they should.
It’s evening now and I just got around to finding the right page again. Today, in lieu of thinking about what I might write about this poem, I did lots of other little things in order to keep my head afloat somewhere above the waters of my day. Most notably, I got myself and both the girls out onto the playground in all of our snow clothes for some outdoor winter play. I was really happy to discover that my twenty-month old has made the transition from not-being-able-to-play-in-the-snow-at-all phase of development, to the moderately-able-to-play-in-the-snow-with-a-lot-of-help phase of development. Mostly, she let me pull her around in a sled. Her expression was stoic and inscrutable, as, for example, it is when we take her swimming. But she did not protest, and when Elsa does not protest, the outing is a roaring success.
This led into the more extended phase of coming back inside, warming up, getting all the boots and snow clothes off again, changing a diaper, followed by snacks, (more) laundry, and requests for things, never-ending requests, you see, and the perpetual task of putting strewn things back where they go, and a crock pot dinner, which, I’m discovering, is the only kind of dinner I can seem to pull off more than three days in a row without succumbing to take-out.
What I can never really get over is that tomorrow, we will all need to eat again, several times. And we will probably need to do something for the cabin fever again as well. So, I guess this is why I like metaphors about finding the red dress of self–or what have you–so much. I am most definitely footing it through the universe over here with a reckless heart, and have been for ever so long. But not without many, many rewards.