turquoise fringe

In downtown motion
she clutches her insides
as passers-by jostle her spirit.

Occasionally swollen moments,
accidents that mirror everybody else’s outsides,
pull her into the human race.

She shops,
she looks in windows, lingering,
pretending she knows how to chat,
how to make others understand
she’s like them

when she’s an outsider
clutching her insides.

Passers-by strolling by homey shops
move in arcs around her
never noticing her hollow eyes
never noticing
she’s like them.

Clenched and unsteady
she clutches her insides
a solitary turquoise stone
cracking in the black of crowds.

Brenda Warren 2011

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Process Notes:
I suffer from crowd anxiety in large shopping centers, and started writing with the intent to explore and exaggerate that feeling. An alienated persona weaves its way through this piece. “She clutches her insides” is inspired by a student.

Visit The Sunday Whirl for more pieces utilizing Wordle 23 a la Viv.

Advertisements

36 thoughts on “turquoise fringe

  1. Brenda, I enjoyed reading this, though it unnerved me a bit. I identify with that “jostle her spirit” line. I hate shopping – would prefer to stay at home. My wife loves shopping, and would prefer to get out of the house. But due to an illness, she can’t drive, so I do a lot of shopping. And that ending, the “solitary turquoise stone / cracking” – a powerful image; I identified with that one too.

    Richard

    Like

  2. Excellent, certain situation with people cause me to get nervous. I unfortunately I had a bad experience with a library patron at work. Let’s just say it landed up in court.

    Like

  3. A strong piece, Brenda. I sometimes get the same anxiety in crowds – and given that my usual shopping haunt is the ever-crowded local Walmart, that can be exhausting. I have to fight down the feelings and remind myself to breathe and not freak out. I don’t know when it started – I can’t remember feeling that way before I moved from Massachusetts back to the Coast, so it may be related to Hurricane Katrina somehow – but it’s an unnerving and enervating experience.

    Like

  4. Very powerful!
    … and I thought that
    “a solitary turquoise stone
    cracking in the black of crowds.”
    – Was a brilliant description of what you were trying to convey.
    An excellent piece Brenda.

    Like

  5. If I wrote a strawberry parfait (a description I loved, by the way), then this poem is Chateaubriand, the ultimate experience in beef (oh dear, I hope you are not a vegetarian)! It’s a solid and substantial piece.

    Like

  6. Brenda, there is something about the supermarket and shopping malls, that I just can’t cope with. I suffered from agoraphobia terribly before moving to Mexico. I would arrive at the supermarket sometimes with my husband and become completely overwhelmed, and insist on sitting in the car, making him go in and do the shopping. As the years have gone by, I seem to be able to handle being in crowds better. This piece really hit me hard. It is worth sending out for publication.

    Pamela
    btw I am having a devil of a time with the words. 🙂

    Like

    • Pamela, Thank you for sharing your story with me. I read it to Len, and he laughed. He does most of our shopping. I’ve been known to wait in the car, too.
      It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. 😉
      Brenda

      Like

  7. sometimes shopping can be so heartless!!!! it is only for those days when one is brave and strong and can stand the outside forces… seriously, even the market can be bothersome…

    Like

  8. Excellent Brenda. I just dislike shopping in general–never choose to do it as an entertainment or for fun. Never thought about it being associated with the crowds. Probably not, since I don’t even like to shop in an empty mall. But they do seem especially unpleasant when they are crowded. I like how you put the words together in this one.

    Like

  9. This grabs the reader by the throat. You tucked one little line in there that resonates with all the comments: never noticing / she’s like them. She is like them, just like them, and they are like her. This one of those poems you put away to await publishing.

    Like

  10. RYN: Yes, I think mankind is headed on the fast train on the fast track now to bringing about its own demise. I feel we have been here before too (in different ways of highest civilization, which would explain all of the ancient, incredible building, pyramids, stonehenge etc that we cannot even begin to replicate using the tools they think they had to hand back then, even now ) at some point in our very ancient past. I believe all the knowledge of space/time/ and about many more facts that we possessed then were either ‘secreted’ away by the powers that be back then, to control the masses through fear and religion or, were handed down by word of mouth and lost into myth and to legend.
    I too would go back to simpler days too, when people mattered so much more to each other than material possessions. It’s fast become a world of have and have nots and sadly, the have nots also have a right to survive. Your daughters may change their minds as they mature and their maternal instinct kicks in. But, as the world is right now, and will be for quite some time to come, I don’t blame them for not wishing to inflict the world (as it is) on new-borns.
    Thanks for such a lovely in-depth comment Brenda, it was appreciated.

    Like

      • I got that…you worry too much. LoL We have similar sensibilities, but may not be a squeaky enough wheel to get greased…unfortunately, money talks. I’m a teacher in America, buying books at thrift shops to try to grab “developing” readers in my classroom. In our district these students have been called struggling readers, emerging readers…. this year we are promoting developing readers as our buzz word. To be honest, many students are non-readers, plain and simple.

        Here’s a good news story, if you or any of you are interested. It’s hard to share, because it’s me, and I don’t like being on television. (The big check is still hanging on my wall, and the books are OVER – read!)
        http://www.krtv.com/news/one-class-at-a-time-east-middle-school2/#!prettyPhoto/0/

        Like

    • I thought you’d relate, Laurie. Something in your work speaks to my anxiety from time to time. Your prose poetry contribution this week is strong writing, I enjoyed my stop at your blog.

      Like

  11. I’m with you all the way on this one. It’s called agoraphobia. I’ve been on 30 min bus rides to get to work and through panic of feeling closed in by the bus being too full, had to get off and walk the rest of the way. At superstores if I didn’t have much and I’m in a long queue before I get to the checkout, I’d put the stuff back on the shelves and leave. I’m not so bad now (thank goodness) but, I understand the anxiety your write about so well.
    Very image filled and explains those feelings of inner panic in vivid detail.

    Like

    • Thank you for validating my experience. Sadly, I’ve abandoned a grocery cart. But only once, and only because the noise was starting to fade in and out, which means major anxiety is right around the corner. I’ve only had anxiety attacks that intense a handful of times in my life. Having worked in the grocery business, guilt has followed me for leaving that cart. I’m the type who cleans up other people’s abandoned carts in the parking lot. 🙂

      Like

  12. Brenda, an interesting piece. The uneasiness comes through in a sensitive way, and it’s interesting that you have aired those thoughts of a shopper ill at ease in a crowd. Which it seems is a lot of us!

    Like

    • Irene, I wondered what you’d think of the piece, what with your professed love of shopping on your blog. But then your piece today spoke of quirkly little places to shop, and that’s my kind of shopping—well that and thrift shops (second hand stores). I frequent those for books for my classroom.

      Like

  13. I like what you did with the words, Brenda. The ending was especially effective as a way of expressing the feeling of alienation. I don’t mind shopping in shopping centers (especially before the holidays). It is trying to find a parking spot & checking out in a long line that I hate.

    Like

    • Thank you Mary. And boy howdy, do I mirror your feelings about waiting in line. Before teaching I worked for Albertson’s, as both a checker and a deli manager. We had items per minute contests as checkers…the system tracked it for us. It was a blast! I know who the fast checkers are in stores I frequent, because long lines make me crazy, but slow checkers make me crazier. My impatience is a flaw that’s hard to overcome….except in my classroom. With my students, I have all the patience in the world. Strange, but good.

      Like

  14. Oh Brenda you are fine!! Whoever wants to jostle with the crowds in a shopping mall 🙂 and never during the shopping season!! It is not an anxiety in me, but I simply don’t like to be pushed around!! Spoils the charm of glorious shopping!! Can you imagine the crowds in a country that has the worlds second largest population?? 🙂
    “She clutches her insides” Is typically anxiety and sends the right message from the poem!! This uneasy feeling is experienced by all, at sometime or other, in various situations!!

    Like

    • Yes, I’m fine…just anxiety ridden enough to do my holiday shopping early. This year we are all getting new cell phones and accessories…so it’s an easy one. Such an American family…it makes me wonder how prevalent cell phone use is amongst teenagers in India. If you come back and see this reply, let me know, otherwise I’ll ask you somewhere else later. 🙂

      Like

    • Thanks Viv.. My own anxiety isn’t too terribly bad, I just avoid shopping malls during holiday seasons. I went over the top with the piece to exaggerate those feelings. Airports don’t bother me…I wonder if it’s because people have destinations in mind, and the traffic is fairly organized.. That randomness of movement at the malls? Oy vey.

      Like

share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s