All entries for Monday 12 February 2007
February 12, 2007
Taken from Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces. In his book, Campbell describes a “formula” for storytellers, a formula taken from the myths of Ancient Rome and Greece. In Christopher Volger’s book, The Writer’s Journey, the author suggests that this formula can be applied to real life as well, that it is “a great key to life”.
1. Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD
You were introduced in red, screaming wails,
clawing at the air, the pressure tight on your
We tease you now that you were born with chords tied tight about your neck,
so desperate, our hero, to escape a life
you had not lived.
Then, we lost you.
For a second,
You can never be a part of my ordinary world,
as my fingers tease your back,
releasing your too-loud, teenage burp.
-- -- -- -- -- -- --
3. They are RELUCTANT at first, or REFUSE THE CALL
Brush your hands over your face,
dry palms against the two-day stubble,
NB: If you wanted to go, I would hold you back.
4. They are encouraged by a MENTOR
For as long as I can remember you, I can remember her.
She always haunted your birthday,
your second self, best friend,
Now, she cares for you as I do,
and as she smiles; I wonder if you see a difference
if you can see the change between two sisters?
For me, she exists because I dislike her,
and she gives you a liberty, an uncertainty –
She could disappear.
NB: If she wanted you to go too, would you?
5. CROSSING THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the special world
I remember the first day you went to school. Proud and straight-backed you sat on the carpet, listening to the crinkle-eyed teacher, who smiled at your blonde hair and wide smile.
Your blue sweatshirt smothered you in tight crinkles; newly worn, it had not yet learnt to accommodate itself to your shape. Your trousers then, were the uniform grey. We all knew that by that night, they would have the stereotypical stains, immovable until you are older, and finally learn that falling in football is not a success.
That was the first day I became the big sister, and you first noticed the distinction between a sibling and a friend. You could look bored to see me, and yet I knew that at home time, as we waited for the babysitter, you would hug me; Love you, Han.
Now, it is expected, ordinary, makes me smile. As we both hug our parents, sat on the kitchen bench drinking tea, I feel that moment is endless. But morning comes, you leave for school (shirt sleeves rolled up, no jumper no matter the weather, and bag slung low on your back), and you are crossing a threshold that can only ever be yours.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
11. They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the experience.
I knew your birth had been hard,
I had watched as you screamed,
I helped Daddy with the Christmas dinner,
the first year you joined us.
Nestled to Mummy’s bosom, you were there forever.
I was not prepared to loose you,
to fight and pray to a God I had not known existed.
Quickly, Han, Ali has to go back to the hospital.
Your chest sounded like the tardis,
screeching and billowing,
attempting to reach an impossible release,
the landing point.
Where’s he going?
I don’t know, Han. Daddy’s coming.
Take out your heart from the clamp,
and release your lungs from the large, elastic band,
wrapped tight, and making you cry.
My little brother, no bigger than my doll,
and already you have undertaken more than me,
held your life in your hands,
and fought with a life.
Come home with us, Ali. Fight, and come home.
You did. But a part of you,
the tiniest segment,
stayed behind, and your heart
learnt to beat,
12. They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIER, a boon or treasure to benefit the Ordinary World.
Bum, ch-bum, bum, ch-bum, bum ch-bum.
Your heart beats irregularly, out of time.
People do not believe me when I say,
watching you and knowing there can be
nothing wrong with you –
a six foot rugby player, the image of teenage health.
They struggle to understand that yes,
there is nothing wrong with you.
For, your journey is unimportant, your past no more then memories;
here, now, in this and every second,
you are you and I am me,
and your hand is hardly bigger than the first time I clasped it,
sixteen years ago in the blaring white ward; singled out, even then.
Lean your head on my shoulder,
sigh, and rub the tip of your nose across my shoulder blade.
Tired now, Han.
In memory of you.
For years I have been painting your face,
picturing and not seeing;
writing you from my myth,
that swept around me -
a woman dressed all in black, veils attached to her fingertips.
It was months ago since I last saw you,
with laughing eyes walking into the room.
Your smiles flashed and clanged with mine,
and the toss of your head made me smirk and cringe.
I did not touch you, with my soiled hands,
itchy with the creases of fears.
Instead, I grasped my brush,
and I painted you into my skin,
careless of the scratching bristles that made my eyes sting and my tongue
fight to scream.
Now I am with you every day, seeing this acrylic painting
staring back at me and smiling
- because you have to –
and I cannot see past your carefully groomed hair.
I read about you once,
closing my eyes and feeling your words
sweep and enclose, and I loved you then.
Now I am faced with your silence, as the paint, so carefully applied,
begins to crack and my hands are still,
empty of varnish
as I stand back and watch your mottled, unforgiving tears.