Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

PERSONAL JOURNALS: WHEN IN SIGHT OF THE FAR ENCAMPMENT

In "The Creative Fire" manuscript by cp estés, elegies/ obituaries on June 20, 2010 at 3:49 AM

WHAT SHALL BE DONE WITH THESE PAINTED JOURNALS

I’ve still a significant amount of 60 years’ work in journals.
But too, at different times of my life, I’ve lost some journals,
or accidentally left them on trains, and some have been stolen.

I’ve burned some for lack of space to store them,
and placed other pages of grief in fast moving water upstream.
I’ve torn out pages and made papier maché faces
with my handwritten words still visible
on the cheek under the eye,
or behind the ear.

I’ve shredded some journals to confetti
to make celebratory props for a child’s wedding play.
Some have been destroyed by angry people during my childhood
and by those maddened by love/hatred;
some were confiscated at school and never returned.
(You will write 100 times, “I will not write poetry during class.”)

Some are falling to pieces for I live in dry high country desert
these past many years, and the tree skins they are writ upon
are so, so old, the page corners can break like cracker
when I turn them.

Some are filed by year in a kitchen cupboard;
others have no years affixed and are stacked
with their blue and red and yellow spiral bindings
looking like metal serpents biting all the pages together.

Some are writ with reasoned straight lines of left-hand writing;
some are writ like a child writing cursive for the first time,
uphill, downhill, upside down… for these are my dream journals,
written in the middle of the night under only moon for lantern.

And some of my favorites are ‘my painted books’
with all my handwrought paintings, my invented fonts,
and wild illustrations marching across every open space within,
like some wild x-ray of a living human psyche.

And there are many notebooks with just a few pages writ,
for I loathed the slow feather of the ink on cheap pulp paper.
And there are more and different journals, square, rectangular
and all written in the language of quiet-personal/ present tense.

Many journals hold writings that seem like a conversation
held outdoors in winter,
wherein the words, the promises,
the secrets which will not remain secrets forever,
were suddenly frozen in the air as they were written
… and are thereby preserved in the meat locker,
for as long as long is long.

I’ve thought of willing my painted journals, my painted books,
and thousands of sheaves of handwrit pages:
There are the universities who would like my ‘papers.’
But I wonder at someone analyzing
these time-suspended beings,
and trying to thaw them out,
in order to write a paper
about ‘what she meant when she said x.”

No, these journals, for now, live as little catacombs,
and I go there sometimes, to visit the dead… and the living.
My journals are my clearest and cock-eyed witnesses
to my time spent on earth with the story hags, the poem potters.

Thus, my journals and painted books will stay with me a while yet…
But, in the end, at the end, I deeply sense now, am certain now
that  I am in sight of the last, far encampment…
that
all my papers
must return
to what they were once, long ago:  trees…

Thus, I’ve made my plan: I’ve left word
to consign my papers to the fire,
so they can become ash…
and thence be taken up in a soft woven bag…

and I’ve asked that whomsoever still lives…

to spread these ashes on the earth where those who love me…

want something hopefully beautiful to grow in my name…

something beautiful to grow from the humus of my agonistas, dreams and ideas…

something beautiful to grow from the ruthless counsel of angels in those pages,

the ones who bid me write:

“I hope you will go out
and let stories happen to you…
and that you will work them,
water them
with your blood,
your tears
and your laughter…
till they bloom…
till you yourself
burst into bloom.”

Thereby, may all find for us
the good evidence that this indeed
is what I,
and ever so many other dear brave souls,
earnestly endeavored to do
in this one precious and wild lifetime…
wherein from Mother Earth
came the ink, the pens,
the pencils, the pigments, and the papers
…but from the angels and the ancestors
came the stories.

Amen.


(and a little woman)

—————

“WHAT SHALL BE DONE WITH THESE PAINTED JOURNALS”, ©  2010, All rights reserved. Dr. C.P. Estés, poem from La Pasionaria: Collected Poems of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés:  A Manifesto on The Creative Fire.” This particular work may be used non-commercially as long as it is kept entirely intact, not added to nor taken from, and this complete notice including usage, author and copyright notice is clearly printed upon it. Other permissions ngandelman@aol.com

*las agonistas: the agonies

Topmost image: a cairn, which is a stacking of stones, each stone placed with a prayer, and the cairn being built at a special place marking the leave-taking of one world, and the entry into another world in mind, spirit, soul or body, or all.


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  1. Dr E, I rephotograph details of my diaries. One words here and there, sometimes whole pages. Emphatic crossing out. All manner of…Oh, oh, oh oh oh oh oh. I love the smell of the most initial first gesture of writing. If you ever have impulse to make a book of one or two of the painted sketch books, and you happen to be looking for a me to photograph them… I would be there faster than a little bumble bee who´s just eaten its full on the most delicious nectar (ok so not very fast, but exceedingly happily…) love, love, jagat joti …

  2. Two days and two nights ago, I reduced to ashes the fruits of 13 years and10 months of The Morning Pages, they were begging me to do it..I knew not why…..I Do Know Now.

  3. “I’ve torn out pages and made papier maché faces
    with some handwritten words still visible
    on the cheek under the eye,
    or behind the ear.

    I’ve shredded some journals to confetti”

    Oh Lovely! I will do the same…I once made paper out of mountains of old bills and unwanted solicitations…and then drew lovely pictures on it. But this is so much better….to save and re-purpose that which is meaningful, loved, sacred and healing…beauty!

  4. Be sure to consign, designate, get commitments from the right beneficiary of your most private ruminations.Many books have been posthumously published that were meant to fan a flame and not the pocketbooks of survivors. While I value every word you speak/write/sing/pray, I only want them FROM you for they are only meaningful when so willed. I feel the same about my own writings, reflections, notes,first ideas, and reflections. Taken away from me, separated from their originalcontext, they are no longer mine; they are then possessed by another and are emptied of the veritas that is me. What I give is imbued with me; if it is stolen from me… well, you know.

  5. Beautiful. I´ll do the same! I will irrigate the land with the ashes of what i´ve written, so words may grow again. Love

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