The Story Behind “Two Poems” by Rebecca Macijeski

_MG_5343Today’s post is written by Rebecca Macijeski. Her poems “Sonata for Water and Birds” and “Searching” appear in our Spring 2016 issue.

“Sonata for Water and Birds” and “Searching” explore my fascination for what we can become in the gray area where opposing forces or energies overlap.

The poems come from a book- length project that tries to fill this space with associative possibilities. The project combines two sequences of poems—one that muses lyrically on my training and experiences as a classical musician, and another that imagines Death as a woman struggling to balance her duty and curiosity toward the dead. The result is that my story as a poet and a woman emerges in the center section of this unlikely Venn Diagram. The Death poems serve as reminders of how to live life with respect to all its intimate glories, while the music poems play with the paradox that music—and, by extension, life—only exists when it is going out of existence.

Of these two poems, “Searching” came first. It builds from my own memory of dissecting a pig in high school biology. Since ours was the only male specimen, my lab partner and I named him Napoleon. I’ll never forget the strange mix of horror and awe I felt watching my lab partner gather up what seemed like yards and yards of secret matter from underneath our clumsy incisions. I felt like I had crossed some boundary I couldn’t travel back from. Many years later, the Death persona project finally provided me a way to write about this experience in a way that would do honor to the dissociation surrounding the memory for me. That’s the allure of persona; it lets my experiences be both mine and not mine.

Sonata for Water and Birds” is much more recent—drafted and revised only in the last year. It’s essentially a love letter to the dynamic nature of life. Water and birds become metaphors for this dynamism. Water represents the cumulative fluidity of time, and the sense that the energies of our individual human lives join this grander gesture of forces. Birds, by contrast, remind us of the terminal facts of our own bodies, that joining the collective of time ultimately means dying out of the moments we work so diligently to gather and remember.

About the Author

Rebecca Macijeski is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Nebraska and holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She currently serves as an Assistant Editor in Poetry for Hunger Mountain and Prairie Schooner. She has attended artist residencies with The Ragdale Foundation and Art Farm Nebraska. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, Potomac Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rappahannock Review, Nimrod, Sycamore Review,Gargoyle, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Storyscape, Border Crossing, and others.

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