Being

This being human is as tabula rasa
some have said. Imagining her foetus
folded and moulded in wax
must melt a mother’s’ heart.
Opaque as opal, veined and marbled
with a little wick of white bones.
She lights a candle when the wick is trimmed.

With breath of life, the small flame’s tended
drip fed milk-white molten drops.
So do infants rise as a pillar is meant
straight and reaching for the light
with stars and pressed flowers
in the waxen skin, smelling of almonds.

Yet all too human we mature misshapen.
Deform by emotive storms, vicissitudes
that add a tapered twist. And multitudes
of words once heard graffitied deep within:-
lovenvyearningreed
dangeragemptyield

This human being is well-written now
skin aged and puckered as beeswax
awaiting the eternal flame.


*tabula rasa – blank wax tablet. Philosophy of humans in original pure state, yet to be altered by outside forces.

For her Poetics prompt Kim asks us to write a metaphor poem that starts with Rumi's words: "This being human is" 

46 thoughts on “Being

  1. That is such a coincidence, Laura. I wrote this prompt and my own response before Radio 4 started to broadcast its serialisation of Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro this week, and that is the first thing that came into my mind when I read your poem. In the book, Klara is an AI (Artificial Friend) to a dying girl, and the girl’s parents are planning to make her into the daughter when she is gone. The AI is a tabula rasa to begin with, but she is a very fast learner. It especially chimes with what you wrote about ‘Imagining her foetus / folded and moulded in wax / must melt a mother’s’ heart’. My favourite lines:
    ‘Opaque as opal, veined and marbled
    with a little wick of white bones’
    and
    ‘With breath of life, the small flame’s tended
    drip fed milk-white molten drops.’
    I too feel that I am ‘well-written… skin aged and puckered as beeswax’.

  2. This is absolutely exquisite, Laura! ❤️ I am especially moved by; “So do infants rise as a pillar is meant straight and reaching for the light with stars and pressed flowers in the waxen skin, smelling of almonds.” Your imagery is to die for! 🙂

  3. I like how you put those words together, as the emotions do flow into each other. “words once heard graffitied deep within” My heart wishes there was a filter babies could be installed with that only let in the good stuff, but my mind knows the bad stuff is the flotsam framework our characters are built upon. Excellent poem, as usual, Laura!

  4. The metaphor runs through this seamlessly and you work it so well. I really like how you seem to have the candle growing through age as well, not melting into nothing, but maturing.

  5. Wow, wow, wow! What a wonderful metaphor! Love where you state ‘graffitied deep within’ and then combine the graffitied words of ‘lovenvyearningreed’ and ‘dangeragemptyield’ ,
    A fantastic write indeed!

  6. Yes, WOW, this is a wonderfully developed metaphor, Laura! I especially love the phrase “smelling of almonds”. We each hold a flame to shine forth, even from “twisted tapers”.

  7. Very well done Laura. Yes, we seem to come out in misshapen wax, but we will be a candle some day! I love this line…
    And multitudes
    of words once heard graffitied deep within:

  8. This is so beautifully and skilfully written: the imagery is visceral and heartbreaking, especially that of the ‘foetus/folded and moulded in wax.’ Then to reach the conclusion that ‘Yet all too human we mature misshapen.’ and bring the waxen imagery back around to the flame. Wow!

  9. From “meant / straight and reaching for the light” to “we mature misshapen” — so true. I especially like this line: “multitudes / of words once heard graffitied deep within”

  10. I really like the idea we are like melted wax, winding up somewhat misshapen from the journey. Definitely applies to me. Smiles.

  11. This is hauntingly beautiful Laura, a read to fall into — wonderfully!
    lovenvyearningreed – love envy yearning greed
    dangeragemptyield – danger rage empty yield
    …masterful…

  12. And now and then we are fulfilled by the beauty of art, like these words, my dear Laura, while “awaiting the eternal flame”. Thank you, my dear friend. xoxo

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