In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his tradeAnd he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him
‘Til he cried out in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains.— Paul Simon, The Boxer.
Defiance. I cannot think of defiance without thinking of The Boxer — and without, almost in the same breath, thinking of my mother.
My mother was 11 years old at the start of the Great Depression. She was 21 at the end of the Depression, but then the War broke out. By the time the young, available men began returning in 1945, mom was 27 and — surprising as this might be to some of today’s readers — she was by then considered too old to be marriageable.As every historian knows, depressions and large-scale wars at the very least postpone many marriages. At 27, my mother resigned herself to what was then called, “spinsterhood.”
She met my father by sheer accident.
Her sister had some photos waiting for her at a studio, but was busy that day. Could mom pick them up? The photographer was to become my father.
As some readers already know, he died young about ten years later. I once asked mom if people could be truly happy for long periods in their lives.
“I have only once in my life been happy for a sustained period. That lasted ten years. Longer than most people have, I think.” I asked her, “Which ten years?”
“It doesn’t matter now”, she replied, perhaps to protect me from feeling too poignantly her loss. The self-effacing maternal instinct at work.
Mom sold everything she could, including her home, then paid off the medical debt from dad’s lingering, but fatal cancer. She had left over “just about enough to bury him.”
The oldest of her three sons was four at the time. She was unemployed, living in an apartment that her sister’s husband paid the rent on. It was 1958, and women did not have many prospects for decent well paying jobs.
Of course, I most likely wouldn’t be here to tell her story had she given up.
Defiance. It is curious how many of us come relatively late in life to the full realization of how unpredictable and unfair life can be. Maybe that’s because we seem to need the illusion that we are immune to “outrageous fortune” in order to avoid spending our days waffling like Hamlet between life and suicide.
Whatever the case, most of us sooner or later realize life all too frequently presents us with no real choice but to simply stand and defy the fates.
Complaining — whether justified or not — doesn’t change a thing. Stand or die. Literally, stand or die. Curious how long it can take many of us to fully understand and accept that fact as a normal part of even the happiest lives.
Today’s prompt is to write a poem on defiance.
The poem need not include the word “defiance”, but defiance should be its core and central theme. Consider, too, that the poem can be on any kind of defiance. The defiance of a rabbit facing an eagle. The defiance of a stone resisting water. The defiance of water regarding the stone. And so forth. The possibilities are nearly endless.
(1) Your poem can be any length, and in any poetic form — including a prose poem.
(2) Please post it on your blog by 11:59 PM, Sunday, the 7th of April at the latest.
(3) If you will so kind, include a link back to this post.
(4) If you will be even kinder, please reblog this post.
(5) Then happily grab your favorite beverage, lay back, relax, and expect soon enough a visitor bearing precious gifts of lavish, but sincere, gratitude (that would be me).
Last, special thanks to Paul over at Parallax for his kind encouragement.