Once a month I get together with three other women for a dinner and chat. Each month, one woman is responsible for giving us an assignment that will help us grow, deepen our understanding of ourselves and our relationships, or engage us in a conversation -- such as a reading we must all discuss.
Last night, the assignment was to describe how you would spend the last week of your life if you knew it was the last week of your life. Money and time were not an issue -- other than you had seven days all to you.
My choices included my family -- Daughters, C.C., mother, sisters, nieces. We had a house on the beach at Tofino (one of THE most beautiful places in the world) and a video camera. The week was to be filled with laughter, stories, walks on the beach and quiet time reading. Of the books I would bring, Maureen Doallas' book, Neruda's Memoirs, topped my list. I was so grateful Neruda's Memoirs arrived in the mail on Wednesday, just in time for my dinner date with my friends. This slim, beautiful volume of poetry is filled with rich and beautiful imagery, poignant phrasing and provocative thoughts. It is a gem.
"I would read poetry to my loved ones," I told the group when describing the scene during my last week, "and ask them to read poetry to me."
To illustrate, I read three poems from Neruda's Memoirs to my friends. Maureen has divided the book into three flowing chapters. From Chapter I, Enter, I shared her sweet and lyrical poem, Steady as She Goes -
A heart can get unsteady/waiting/for that deal with heaven/to close
From Chapter II, Listen, the beautiful and soulful, To Be Re-Enchanted Is Uneasy --
Moment and moment and moment/clocking away unaccounted for
(and further along)
I would as soon die as miss/morning coming up, the swelling round/of cloud before lightbursts
From Chapter III, Exit, I read the poignant and meaningful, Heartfelt --
Pain isn't a wound/we can stitch/to a close/The way we patch/the hole a bullet makes/or lace the skin that a bone pierces
At the end, my friends sat in a moment of silence, Maureen's words dancing around us, lighting up the air, sparkling with the joyful essence of champagne bubbles rising to the surface.
When I got home at 9:30, C.C. was waiting on Skype, (yeah! miraculously my Internet is working again). He's in Saskatoon and we have set a regular nightly Skype date to give us a chance to catch up on our day. As part of our call, we read a poem to each other.
Yup. You guessed it, I read to him from Neruda's Memoirs.
I am enchanted by Maureen's words, her elegant use of language and the soft and lyrical cadence of her writing. This beautiful volume of images shaped into words that dance into my heart is a beautiful gift to share out loud with lovers and friends. It is a gift to be treasured in the quiet of night, where sleep lies waiting on the threshold of crisp white sheets enveloping you as you immerse yourself in the tranquil waters of Maureen's voice lulling you into a world of dreaming.
Go buy it. You will be so grateful you did.
Neruda's Memoirs is available on Amazon... all around the world.
Maureen's blog is Writing without Paper.