Now, the introduction to Muse for Monday was fairly clear (reread again to be sure). Go ahead, and click the link. It will open in another tab, so you can keep reading here. The reason I wanted you to pick an image of what empty meant to you was because I discovered long after I wrote this one, it applied to so many things.
Some of your empty choices were:
- An empty box
- Empty nest
- An empty bowl
- An empty heart
I thought these choices were both inventive and interesting, as they each changed the feel of the poem significantly.
I admit, the final image in the post may have (erroneously) given you the image of death. I will take the blame for that, despite the image caption. A skull to me is a form of protection… nature’s very own personalized helmet. If that is where you got the idea of death, meh, it was not my intention.
The first image was how I entered the poem… A blank (empty, wordless, slightly out of shape) page. Truly, it is the writer’s empty. As read, the shadow was the idea, swirling in the brain, not sure if it is ready to coalesce and become something (beautiful, horrific, adventurous, romantic).
The millstone was writer’s block. When it fell away, the shadow escaped to fill the page. The process can be draining, often leading to an emotional void after the euphoric high of creation. What the empty heart feels is nothing: no stress, no pressure, no need.
Now does the caption of the last image make different sense?
The image of the box is an important one. When searching for photographs depicting empty for the end of the post, most of what I found was boxes. It took me two days to really wrap my brain around the image of the empty box. So, what does the box represent? Look at what boxes hold…
The short form? We do not keep things we do not want in boxes. When the box is empty, it is a sad thing. Have you ever gotten a present from your snarky friend who wrapped 15 little presents inside the box? What is the feeling when the box is empty?
The shadow is the wrapping paper. The millstone is the unwrapping. The emptiness is the battle between being happy with what you have and knowing there is no more.
The Empty Nest
This one was very different. Empty Nest Syndrome is not the easiest thing in the world to overcome, especially for parents whose children have been the epicenter of their universe for all of minority.
In this case, the shadow was the (graduation, moving out, getting married). The millstone was the obvious loss of responsibility. The emptiness was an empty calendar once filled with (practice, dates, recitals, sports, etc.).
The Empty Bowl
Bowls are similar to boxes, in they rarely hold something we do not want. Our first leap of faith is the bowl holds food, but other bowls hold coins, trinkets, pieces of everyday we use, things we weigh and water.
Like John’s haiku, this image brought with it hope. The empty bowl holds the promise of being filled with what we need. Once it is emptied again, we are fulfilled.
Angie’s correlation of empty to my vacation was outright fun. The shadow was the planning and preparing. The millstone was the travel to the destination. The emptiness was the freeing from schedules, demands and the mundanity and stress of everyday existence.
The Empty Heart
This image struck me harder than all the rest. To begin with the empty heart made me struggle with the concepts in the poem. The shadow became love. The millstone was a relationship.
The emptiness was loneliness. To interject some type of uplifting feeling, the emptiness became the chance at true love because the millstone was a bad relationship.
With the massive amount of loss I have survived, I understood this interpretation very well, even if it was not my intent in writing it. The cutting away of this millstone was death of a loved one.
There were other choices when it came to what empty was before the poem began. Some of the other options I had were:
- A calendar
- A wine glass or bottle
- A piggy bank
- The sky
- An aquarium
- A drawer
- A garment
Each of these held a promise to be filled with good or bad experiences, which once complete left a different feeling of nothing. Do any of these resonate with you? Try reading it with one of them in mind.
What is nothing?
For me, the most poignant lines of the poem are the closing five lines. There is a freedom when we spend nothing (no energy, emotional capital, self-sacrifice).
Reading some of the interpretations, what is the nothing the empty heart feels? Is nothing necessarily a bad thing? Can nothing be a really good thing?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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