Some Pieces Are Years in the Making. That’s Ok.
By: Francesca Ferrauto
I was 15 years old when my biological father left. He’d been trying to do that for a few years, but in the end, it was my mother who pushed him out the door. He wasn’t that good of a father, quite the passive man in general, so much so that even in leaving us, my mother had to do it for him. I don’t miss him too much anymore but back then it hurt.
Years went by and my mother got remarried to a wonderful man who turned out to be the father I’d wished I had. Some would say that there’s no story here to tell; the happy ending has already been written. But humans aren’t characters in a fairy tale, and there is rarely a happy ending at the end of our stories. In truth, some would say we never really reach an ending at all. This problem isn’t unfamiliar to writers.
Since moving to Berlin, I’ve finally built up the courage to start investing in my writing and actively pursuing my dream of becoming a published author. This meant that I had to start writing again. I had in fact forced my voice into silence for many years after my father left. I was aching, and looking at my pain written plainly on paper was too much to bear, so I stopped writing for a few years. Little harm done though: I travelled, I studied, I loved, I climbed mountains, I spoke in foreign tongues to strangers that didn’t look like me, I danced under the moon on warm nights on the Kamogawa riverside.
When I reacquainted myself with writing, I felt an urgent readiness to fill the pages with the life I had lived so far, yet I couldn’t find my voice anymore. The words didn’t come to me as they used to. This contributed to a creeping depression I had, until then more or less kept at bay. All my travels, climbing, skiing, jumping in real life had dried up my creativity and left me with no courage in my voice as a writer…or I was simply out of practice. Definitely one of the two.
One way out of my writer’s block has been reading my old writings, those that many years before cut me deep while being written. There I found a voice, but it wasn’t mine anymore.
It belonged to a girl bolder than the woman I have become. The girl was unapologetically honest, excruciatingly unforgiving and theatrical in her judgements. In my daily attempt to exercise love and acceptance, my buttery words do not fit her voice anymore. More than anything, the girl and I have very different opinions on who we should be and who we should love.
The girl wanted to be devoured by love, burned by passion, trusting she’d always have fuel in herself to feed the flame. This burning passion was her main drive to fight the contrasting emotions that tore her apart. She threw herself into the ocean of these violent emotions, dared them to hit again. On the other hand, the woman longs for a quiet place, a solid mountain to cling onto in the midst of this stormy ocean. To me, the writer of these pieces, it’s clear that both the girl and the woman are fighting the same contrasting feelings. One wanted to tame the storm, trusting she was big enough to do so, while the other accepts the storm will not bow to her and simply wishes to find a quiet place to watch it from.
If, in some regards, I can clearly read my growth from girlhood to adulthood in these pieces, the flip side is that I can still find a file rouge of unchanged consciousness that makes up my core-self. In particular, in my old writing, I find a deep sense of loss, which I mistakenly thought I had developed in recent years, as a result of my constant change of address and a very millennial quarter life crisis. Reading in my old words, narrated back to me, the same debilitating depression I am fighting right now has granted me a new vision and a renewed sense of self: it’s grounding me. Since the demons I’m currently fighting weren’t picked up in a foreign land, like I thought, but rather have been following me from home, I have hope. These demons are no strangers to me then, and I only need to remember who they are and how to fight them. I’ve stood my ground against them in the past, and the fact that they’re winning a few battles now doesn’t mean they’re going to win the war in the end.
As writers, we’re often advised not to edit while we write, or even better, to leave a piece be for a while before re-reading it and starting the cut-and-paste editing process. Some of my poems needed years in order to be finished, like the stream of consciousness one I wrote when I was 15 and edited 10 years later into a contemporary visual poem: something I had not been able to accomplish before. I also found that many of my memories dating back to those years were misleading. Rather than the banter of a hormonal teenager, my poems revealed to me an array of emotions gravitating towards fear and solitude. I found an interesting and conscious use of rhythm, colourful imagery and recurrent themes, none of which I remembered ever having mastered. My work lays out written clues that I can follow back to what has truly been my journey, both professional and personal. Sometimes being a writer has its perks.
My old writing felt like a distant memory of me but me nonetheless: it was like finding an old dress that I used to love, lost for years in the back of a wardrobe. Going through this work has allowed me to do so much more than just finish a few poems. I’ve become reacquainted with myself, rediscovered parts of me that I had forgotten, heard my creative voice once more, even if it’s raspy from years of disuse.
The years in between me and these old writings is the distance I needed to let go of the pain in those old words, so that I could finally edit them. On the other hand, editing those old poems and hearing my raspy voice again has been my way out of writer’s block. I hear my adult voice clearly now. It has thickened with the years, and now I can write words big enough to carry its heaviness.
I don’t know if putting order in my emotions enabled me to write again, or if writing put order in my emotions: it’s a chicken-or-the-egg kind of question. However, we don’t always need to understand every detail of our creative process.
One thing is clear though:
Dear writer, you need to wait before you can edit and some pieces take years.
Abbandono le mie membra già morte,
le lascio incancrenirsi al sole arrogante.
Dilanio il mio corpo estirpando ogni peso,
e non oso ammettere quanto sia faticoso.
Do per scontato che sia normale,
questo tagliare, togliere, strappare.
Non mi ero accorta di quanti cadaveri
si trascinino su questa terra già morti.
Ognuno trasporta la propria croce,
ma non essendo destinati a rinascere.
Interi popoli vivono come morti,
il respiro cesserà e loro
non saranno esistiti.
- July 2012
Abandoned limbs of mine now dead
decaying under an insolent sun.
I dare not to admit the pain
of the ripping of this weight away.
To cut, take, tear this body apart
is so banal these days, I assume.
I did not notice the many corpses
who drag themselves on this earth.
Each of whom bears their crosses,
but not destined to rise once more.
Entire populations live as dead,
their breath will cease and they
will never have existed.
Anxious to go Where
There is no life
There is too much of
once Several Times a Day
Then goes away
Until the next day.
- March 2019
Someone turned off the moon,
It’s a dark dark night in this room.
From nowhere I hear soft words
Floating into my ear, intruders.
They’re around me, I’m surrounded,
I surrender. They won’t let me.
Pulled and teased into an erect pose
Although I lay natural as a corpse.
Pushed to walk I fall, you talk,
have I ever trained to mock?
It’s a dark dark night in this room
So you turned into my moon.
We walk years in this bed,
where all that I think is dead
and all that you say is fair. Unfair.
One cannot defeat the moon.
Softly blowing me a step further,
Eyes closed seeing much clearer,
if I were deaf you’d be my ears,
if I were blind you’d be all I hear.
So here I lay, in your arms, frozen.
Hibernating for the Winter.
And you bring the Spring to me.
In this dark dark wintry room,
You are my springtime moon.
- May 2019