THAT INNER CIRCLING SUN VIII. November 7, 2010. Poem by Judy Hogan
Those who produce works of genius are not those who spend their days in the most refined company, whose conversation is the most brilliant, or whose culture is the broadest; they are those who have the ability to stop living for themselves and make a mirror of their personality, so that their lives, however nondescript they may be socially, or even in a way intellectually, are reflected in it. For genius lies in reflective power, and not in the intrinsic quality of the scene reflected.
–Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, translated by James Grieve, p, 129.
When I was younger, late thirties, I learned
that inside me was an inner circling sun
guarded by a dragon. The image stuck.
I’ve tamed the dragon, but no one else has.
It means I’ll be alone now. Odysseus
has left and returned many times, and yet
I remain alone. He could make one more
homecoming, but it seems unlikely.
Meantime, my spirit gathered up the four
corners of my archetype, like folding a
sheet and putting it away. It was a guide,
a series of stepping stones or street lights
I followed along a dark way, from one
pool of light to the next, learning to trust
what lay ahead when I had to walk blind,
one step at a time.
It is worth everything
to stand where I stand now. Even as darkness
grows more gloomy in the outer world,
where I once worked with so much passion
and energy, the light in my center burns
brighter, intensifies its swing around its
orbit. Can my written words help?
A black man I’d never met before,
working near me at the polling place,
says that if I write books, "We’ll read
We don’t know how our words
will survive all the hazards of the
twenty-first century, when our human
race has yet to learn care for our planet
village or to imagine the inner landscapes
of people different from ourselves. A few
spirits who can see are all that is needed
to turn us from the weather disasters with
which our polluted air and sea begin
to punish us.
Poverty makes friendships
stronger. We still, sadly, learn the hard way,
a truth Sophocles knew centuries ago:
we have to suffer before we learn. Wiser,
we pay more attention to our inner Spirit’s
words and to the love our fellow beings
give us. Even dogs, cats, and chickens
sometimes can’t get through. Obliviousness
is not the worst crime, but it can damage
the love others bear us when we don’t
My path is clear now, and straight.
My all-too-human body has its twinges
and its doubts about all that I still plan
to accomplish, which is why that inner
sun must carry the workload and egg me on.
My greatness is an unknown, and yet I
feel it settle comfortably into the driver’s
seat, turn the key, and tell all the other
passengers: "We’re off."