Monday, May 19, 2008

Speaking of Gabriel

Ruth took me to a performance at the Kennedy Center last night. Free tickets are a fabulous perk from her internship. It was called "El Nino" by John Adams and was performed by the Choral Art Society of Washington. We knew it was pretty modern, which is neither of ours favorites - but since it was supposed to be about the birth of Christ we figured it couldn't be too bad. And overall, it wasn't too bad. It was a mixture of the choir singing, a soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, three countertenors, an orchestra, a boys choir, and what they called "pictorials" which was clips on a video screen of some actors, or modern dance, or other video clips. Ruth and I both felt like sometimes the pictorials were distracting from the beauty of the music and tried to block it out. It was all just a little too modern. But the music was very well performed and most of it was very beautiful (really, all of it was beautiful, it just wasn't to my tastes). Anyway - I could go on forever trying to describe the weirdness of it all. The point is there was one part that I really liked.
When John Adams started writing this work what he really wanted to do was write about birth (or so say the Notes on the Program in the Playbill). And this part, that I really related to, was really about pregnancy - not about Christ or Mary at all. It captured some of my feelings on the subject so beautifully, that I knew I would blog about it as soon as I heard it. The poem is called "Se habla de Gabriel" (Speaking of Gabriel) and was originally written in Spanish by Rosario Castellanos. It was sung in the performance, in Spanish, by the soprano and mezzo-soprano. The words are:

Like all guests my son got in the way,
taking up space that was my space,
existing at all the wrong times,
making me divide each bite in two.

Ugly, sick, bored,
I felt him grow at my expense,
steal the color from my blood, add
clandestine weight and volume
to my way of being on the earth.

His body begged for birth, begged me to let
him pass,
allot him his place in the world
and the portion of time he needed for his history.

I agreed. And through the wound of his
through the hemorrhage of his breaking free,
the last I ever felt of solitude, of myself
looking through a pane of glass, also slipped

I was left open, an offering
to visitations, to the wind, to presence.

I think it captures the pain and misery that I felt so well, and yet still shows that it is a beautiful thing that we women willingly do because we love it, and the fruits of our labors. No, this is not an announcement on my part of any kind - I am not pregnant again. Pregnancy is just never too far from my mind I guess since it has been a big part of my life in recent years, and hopefully will be again for several more years. This poem touched my heart. It almost makes me squirm with desire for a new baby. Almost. But not quite. Yet.


angela michelle said...

Wow, that is beautiful. To me it sounds more like how I imagine "modern" women feel about having children--women who establish careers and lifestyles that they have to give up when they have children. I think I developed a good indepenent, adult sense of self as a young adult, but I always planned on having a family soon, so I never really felt like I had to disrupt much when that happened.

Also--I made my first order from ChicMade today and I'm so excited about my choice. You've made such a fun shop!

Elieson Family said...

Very nice poem. I should like to get it in Spanish. I've never explored poetry or art as it relates to pregnancy/marriage/motherhood. I seemed to stop having time when those things happened! But what a moving piece.
And yes, I love what you did with the bookmarks!