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Mari L’Esperance – Ⅲ

White Hydrangeas as a Way Back to the Self 



To enter the mind is a dangerous act—


















In the mind there are rooms

we dare not inhabit,



we refuse to follow—


This is about a kind of intelligence.


This is about making a way

to live in the world.








To enter the story


going back to the beginning.


To enter the story


like drowning


and drowning is the only way

to get there—






—white hydrangeas








To begin is a dangerous act.

To enter is to risk disaster,


mind infinitely skilled at deflecting

what it cannot bear—


circling and circling the perimeter,

black surface sheened like onyx


(to protect me, I think—must think)


and no perceptible point of entry—








The self is a house

that is closed to me.


It stands on the other side

of mind—


a stalemate.


It is not the entering

that paralyzes


but the fear of it


and what I imagine

I might then








—in a dream, white hydrangeas








—what I might then discover.


My mother disappeared without a trace.


How else to say it?

No explanation. Nothing remaining.


Only echoes

and their endless wake of sorrow.


Only echoes

and their unanswerable questions—








When the news arrived—


in that instant of crossing over

from innocence to knowing—


I felt something otherworldly,

something akin to


the planets tilting on their axes,

perhaps, only inside me—or


the entire world as I knew it

thrown entirely off kilter—


off kilter being the best way

to describe it, as if


best can somehow stand in for

there are simply no words


None. No other way to say it.






—white, with palest green








This is what it is like to stand alone

at the gate of the unbearable,


gate of fear and the long nights dissolving

one into the next, no light


to see by, the soul’s restless turning

my only compass—the self


violently intercepted, and no notion

of another way to live


or if living is something that is possible.








For a long time


and not wanting

to enter it,

to move through

and down

into what lay beneath—


For a long time


the soul

seemingly gone off

her course

and the mind

relentlessly refusing—



my constant companion


and my stunned heart.






—white hydrangeas, like a dream








I dream of white hydrangeas

floating in a shallow bowl, enormous

and tinged with palest green.


How deeply themselves they are—

how lushly quiet and free of the darkness

that will ultimately claim them.


They live in the whole of it, light

and shadow and all that lies between

as one holy existence.


I hold them close. I hold them close

like something I could live by.


Love and music, be my keepers a while longer—


White hydrangeas, invite me to stay.