Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dear Debra

My favorite Poet of all time is my sister.  Since I wasn't much of a reader until after high school, I listened to her read her poetry through most of elementary school and junior high.  She is the most prolific writer I know.   Debra is one of those people who will stop in the middle of a discussion, grab a napkin and scribble a poem out within a few minutes and then jump back into the conversation as she tucks the napkin into her purse. It can be a bit unnerving until she reads the story on the napkin. And then it is a little bit of magic.

Old Moon

How captured we this night
In lustrous light unfold
He said to cast the newer stars
It is because the moon is old

How laid upon the grasses dew
The light kept we from cold
Encompassed in this starry night
It is because the moon is old

How can you claim these magic things
In these stories that you told
He said look hard upon that rock
It is because the moon is old
That rivers rise next to the sea
That oceans cover shores

That in your eyes is everything
That I’ve loved no one more
How captured you my heart this night
That makes me one so bold
And pressed my lips to yours and said
It is because the moon is old

Old Moon is one of many favorites she has written.

Growing up, we were labeled early on. Debra was the writer, I was the artist.  We spent most of our childhood firmly in our corners.  When we crossed into each others' territory, we were not cheered on for the effort.  We definitely didn't invite each other to experiment into our own niches.  What if I was really the writer and she was the artist?  What would have happened then?

I remember writing a poem in seventh grade.  It began, "I like Sid, but he likes Sally..." Debra should not feel threatened by my foray into poetry, although, I do remember everyone making a fuss about it and "wasn't it so cute."

Debra rarely heard those words. No one really understood her poetry and even though I had been listening to it going on four years by the time I had written my Sid and Sally poem, I understood half of what she read to me. I can appreciate her way with words now that I have become a reader.

Over the years she dabbled in art and created a few beautiful drawings to prove to herself she could, but still was more writer than artist as the poems seemed to march right out of her fingertips, filling notebook after notebook, as the notebooks stacked up and spilled out of boxes under the bed.

In 1997, I took my first Marjorie Rommel writing course at Pierce College.  I found I had a lot to say.  I wrote a few poems... okay limericks, (I am not bad at writing limericks.) What I discovered was I liked writing wordy short stories and have since written over a hundred pieces.  I also finished a novella. I was rather proud of myself for that. But under all this personal growth, was the fear that I wasn't a writer. My sister had that wrapped up.

What we didn't learn when we children was that talent is very much like love.  It scoops you up and makes you feel happy, warm and confident. It's there when you need it.  It is more intimate when given attention. But most importantly, it is limitless. Like love, there is enough for everyone.

My sister and I have fought through the hard times of our youth to become the best of friends.  We designed matching tattoos to commemorate our survival.  I share my art and writing with her and she does the same with me. Debra has become a wonderful and interesting painter with a very different style than my own.  She has painted several paintings this year and has created enough work to have a solo show.  What I would really love is to have a show together.  Now that would be crazy fun!

Debra is still writing profusely and reads to me whenever we talk, mostly through Skype.  It's a very comforting feeling I bring with me from my childhood, the beauty of her voice and the way she wraps her words around me. When I listen to her, I know her.

A few months ago I painted a portrait of hands.  It was a study of style and process. I shared my progress with my sister and she asked "would you mind if I painted the picture as well?"  I thought is was an interesting experiment and so we have painted our own versions of the same picture.

I hold these two paintings close to my heart.  They are tightly wrapped up in old rivalry and competition, of talent, love and acceptance. We thought we were so different, but we are more alike than anyone knew.

Now they know.

Hands © 2012 Debra Gordon

1 comment:

  1. Sister, my Dearest Part of Me, you have always been what I aspire to. I love you as no other, as only a sibling can know. We are like a path that separates for a time, then converges up the mountain. This life has taken its toll on both of us, as it does everyone. But you have remained steadfast beside me, even when I did not deserve your faith.

    I look forward to having you visit my home, but for at least two weeks, please. One is too short, and perhaps three might be too long, but two is just right, comfortable, and the weather here might lend itself to us for a trip to the coast, ostensibly to paint, more to gab and delight in each others company.

    I love you. Even when I'm unreasonably irked by your charm, or your boundless talent, I love you. Two weeks. I have the right to be greedy, you are MY sister, and that knowledge is MY heart's dearest possession.