Sunday, June 2, 2013

On Irony and Love Songs with Grapefruit and Pomegranate

Doves and grapefruit by Maja Trochimczyk

Some people… wrap themselves in a thick blanket of irony of sarcasm and greet every expression of sentiment or affection with a sneer. We’ve all seen our share of these tough guys and gals, who curse or ridicule every expression of what really matters. “How banal, how boring!” they say, when they hear a sweet love poem, like the one below (first published in the Emerging Urban Poets 2010 Calendar). I remember, I was like that, too, deeply wounded and hiding my pain under a mask of worldly indifference. There was no hope, no future, only the reward for work done in the present. All love declarations I heard were a gigantic lie. The Universe was wrong, all around me. We lived in Hell. Or so I thought.  In my new life vision the Hell part has been upgraded to the level of Purgatory, the place of atonement, relentless testing, endless life exams. Yet, there is hope, there is love, and there are glimpses of Heaven.

The concept of “irony” (from the Greek term εἰρωνεία eirōneía, “pretended ignorance”) is a great invention of romantic heroes, starting from Lord Byron, who protected their vulnerability with an armor of disaffection, finding themselves alienated from the whole world. It still is a useful literary device, but why is it wrong to be ironic in life? To spend your life so well armored, that no real emotion may pierce it? That’s exactly why. This separation from others, this distance, alienation, is the plunge of the soul into the emptiness of a spiritual void. Ugly things become possible: indifference, cruelty, unwillingness to help others, to care for anyone at all, but your own career goals or physical comfort. 

Grapefruit tree by Maja Trochimczyk

I was going to say I “hate” irony but that’s not true, I do not hate anything, nor anyone. I have pity instead. I consciously cultivate in myself an ability to be filled with love and compassion for everyone. (Do I fail in that? Of course, but it is not giving up that matters…) The moral choice of refusing to be ironic, in life or art, may have unpleasant consequences. Some “real” poets would think me silly, and my love poetry sappy and trite, as I happily write a next sweet line while listening to the rich mezzosoprano of Patsy Cline or Ella Fitzgerald, warm as liquid honey: “I’ll be loving you… always… with the love that’s true… always….” 

These words were once addressed to a real person, just as my encounter in the garden really happened… but I don’t think we need to know such details, to feel refreshed and nourished by love.

The bitter-sweet pink grapefruit and the baby pomegranates from my garden are a perfect illustration of our topic for today.

Pomegranate in May by Maja Trochimczyk

A Portrait in Brackets

               “… you promise eternity almost, from the embrace.”
                     Reiner Maria Rilke, The Second Elegy, Duino Elegies

I love every hair on your head
every wrinkle, the round scar
in the middle of your forehead
like Cain’s mark – you are
the chosen one, the untouchable

The little freckles on your nose
shine – endearing, childlike
It was supposed to be
summertime when they came
Here’s summer all the time, already

My love stirs for your full, half-open lips
waiting for my kisses, as I caress
the sharp contours of your cheeks –
I hold them in my cupped hands
looking straight into your eyes

There is no world
only us and the birdsong
at noon in my garden

I love the quiet confidence
of your fingers, skillful hands
like my father’s – solid, able
to fix things, take care of me

I touch your skin, tracing a line
down the nose, soft lips, and chin
I brush against the prickles
of your goatee, before reaching
a sweet spot on your neck

Below your shoulders, under
the smoothness of hard muscles
the bell of your heart welcomes me
The blood sings in your veins, love
surges towards me – I do I do I do

I rest my head on your chest
and listen to your heart
that beats and beats and never
stops playing the music 

© 2009 by Maja Trochimczyk. Published in 2010 Calendar, Emerging Urban Poets, Pasadena.

Stages in Life of a Pomegranate by Maja Trochimczyk

A Lesson for My Daughter

After a ruby-colored glass of Merlot
I told my daughter the secret of the Universe.
I solved it at noon, by the river

Questions, as I thought, do not matter
The right answers to life are “Yes”
And “I Love You”

If you build a circle of “Yes” all around
Affirming who you really are
You will be safe

If you say “I Love You” to everyone
near you –  very quietly, so they can’t hear
but you know

You will walk in a sphere of gladness
That no insult or curse
May pierce

You will find yourself hidden deeply
Where love blossoms, laughter bubbles
And joy overflows

© 2006 by Maja Trochimczyk 


This article and two poems are published in the June issue of The Voice of the Village.

Photos from my garden - grapefruit and pomegranate.

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