Of Cycles and Metaphors

The waters of birth released me, dolphin-like,
into a realm of wonder and delight, only to realize
I was swimming with sharks; they, friendly enough
when sated, aggressive and dangerous when needy
and I swam for my life, filling lungs and stomach
and for the sheer sensation of viscous water
stroking sleek skin and oh, I kept on moving,
for once out of water I would perish;

The oceans were vast and dark and deep, caverns
and voids, brilliant colors and textures and hooks;
barbs dangling through refracted rays of sunlight,
tiny concentric circlets framing slender drop lines
nearly invisible, a too-tidy meal wrapped sinuously
around each of them, appearing not quite right
this fast food, still I was hungry and sampled the fare
and the hook jerked and jabbed, piercing my flesh,
tearing off bits here and there; it was painful,
yet still I remained at liberty to continue my journey;

On an on I swam, for what else is a dolphin to do;
each day the waters remained the same, each day
they changed, some tinged with toxic debris,
at other times those brilliant hues of turquoise
and indigo were balm to a weary heart and now,
decades later, I discover tiny hooks embedded still.
As I carefully dislodge each barb, there is
searing pain mitigated by relief; I am free,
if scarred. I am free.

39 thoughts on “Of Cycles and Metaphors

  1. This twinges, but promises an ocean of relief. How dolphin-like is human-like: those who spot any difference, come forward. There’s an unblemished flow to your immediate scenes, which are visually arresting. Always. It’s an effortless dive (I fully respect your effort) into the depth of your innermost truth, which churns out such poetic masterclass. “As I carefully dislodge each barb, there is searing pain mitigated by relief; I am free, if scarred. I am free” – I know you know the importance of conflict and you’re so good at creating the lock- lead, obstacle, confrontation, and knockout. Loved this (cliched, I know).

    1. Mahesh, it is always a pleasure to read your take on my offerings here – I feel blessed to have readers such as yourself who then take time to reflect and comment. So first and always, my thanks. πŸ™πŸ½

      I do know conflict and presume its importance, yes. My entire life has been a study in what I most wished to avoid – this very thing. Perhaps it’s because I incarnated female, or perhaps it’s indigenous to my ‘soul’s character,’ I do not know – but suspect both. In the immortal words of Rodney King, why can’t we all just get along? And yet I catch myself casting the very nets I’ve faulted others for capturing me in – albeit on a more subtle level, often and thankfully undetected by anyone but me. Then the challenge is to quickly forgive and marvel at the complexities of human existence (once and a billion times again).

      Aloha, dear man. Enjoy your week! ❀

      1. I’m proud of you that you catch yourself casting those nets – and those subtleties of undetected indignation only make you a human. “…to quickly forgive and marvel at the complexities of human existence (once and a billion times again)” – is there a more peaceful alternative to this! xoxo

  2. Incredible! However I sense deeper, more private, feelings and emotions underneath your wonderful words. That’s why I found this latest poem carrying a haunting sub-current. Ignore me if I am way off!

  3. This poem read like a vivid metaphor for the cycle of life. People come and go in our lives, some will be memorable for the wrong reasons but as you said, we keep swimming, we keep moving. ‘appearing not quite right, this fast food, still I was hungry and sampled the fare’ This was such a brilliant line. I imagine some animals and sea creatures are that way when they are hunting their prey in dark corners and dark waters…but I think so many of us people in the real world react this way when we are ravenous after a long day πŸ˜€ Really love the way you ended it on bittersweet but hopeful note: we will be hurt and stung, but it’s always possible to get back up. Moving forward is a choice, and it’s only us that can make that choice and move along. Brilliant writing as usual, Bela ❀

    1. Mabel, thanks so much for your interpretation of this poem and your kind praise. You are so right, we keep on swimming, don’t we? I am pondering life quite a bit these days – the purpose of existing, as it were – what is it we are learning? Resilience? Nonattachment? Unconditional love? Caretaking of collective spaces, species and one another? And to what end? Into what everlasting continuity will we project what we have learned? And so it goes with this quixotic mind πŸ˜‰ Aloha, Mabel! ❀

      1. It is an interesting question indeed, Bela. Why do we exist? It’s not a question I often ask myself. But I do think it’s important that we find a sense of purpose, or at very least find something to do that speaks to us and that we can enjoy and be proud of. Learning is endless, each and every day, just like love ❀

      2. Mabel, I can’t help but think this is age-appropriate for both of us. I think one becomes more reflective as one gets older, and I find it almost impossible to extract myself from these deep contemplative oases. And then there are the demands of the world, such as they might be, interrupting and encouraging. ❀

  4. Gentle tears fall as I read about these tiny hooks and barbs. Such sadness that this beautiful wonderful creature carries with her in her everflowing life. Thank you πŸ™

  5. Bela, this is a masterful poem and I can so relate to the metaphor. And, like Val, I experienced deep emotions to the lines of pulling out the barbs and carrying the scars….on both the personal metaphorical level and the literal thought of what actual dolphins contend with. Great poem! ❣️

    1. Yes, Betty – exactly. We are not separate from these noble creatures that surround us on these islands. And they do suffer – both from long line fishing but also from the islands of rubbish floating around our oceans. Shakespeare was right, “What a piece of work is man!” As for the metaphor, I don’t think any of us escape the barbs. I guess it’s just what we do with them, how we relate to these painful experiences that determines how we mature in this life. Blessings, Betty, and many thanks πŸ’“

  6. Many sharks have hounded me too, bitten me, even tried to gobble me up but life was too precious to be scared by such predators…they swim into our life uninvited, disseminate negativity yet leave positive lessons behind! You have portrayed them so well Bela…I could perceive each cavern and barb, I could feel each texture and hue, the jabs and jerks seem so familiar and the wounds fester each time emotions try to overpower.
    Eventually, it is the attitude that matters. Once we develop the right approach of disengaging from toxic relationships, we can swim to freedom but it takes almost full life to understand and arrive at such a wisdom. Thanks for sharing this wonderful and poignant poem. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, Balroop, I can well imagine you having ‘been there.’ And I agree that it takes a virtual lifetime to absorb meaning from these hurtful incidents. I was just speaking with my young-but-wise acupuncturist about this today. How childhood ended for me the day my dad swung me across the room by my ponytail at three. I knew it then, and I know it now. But bitterness? Not at all. I spent half my life wondering at the cruelty of human beings, and I wonder about it still from time to time – yet I know to my bones I would not be who I am today without every single experience I have undergone. So I’m not a person who enjoys getting down on the ground and playing with a toddler or a puppy (it doesn’t mean I don’t love said toddlers and puppies). Yet if someone needs a person to walk them through their deepest pain and sorrow, I am that safe and steady guide. Is one better than the other? All sorts are needed and valued on this earth walk.
      Thanks for weighing in on this piece. Sending you love πŸ’ž

      1. Your words go deep down into my heart like arrows as I have known those hurts too well but I befriended them, embraced them and embarked on a journey with a man who deeply respects me and has done so for 40 years. Some compensation! πŸ™‚ Love and hugs dear friend.

      2. Yes, I have embraced them, for sure – the freedom I speak of at the poem’s end. I’m so glad you found a respectful partner, as have I these 25 years. It’s a healing balm to the soul. We are blessed! 😘

  7. emphatically my favorite offering here (thus far). easily accessible and – still – a magical articulation of cycles and metaphors. best of all, one cant help but happily note that the dolphin’s story isn’t finished yet… πŸ™‚

  8. Arrgh the ocean, yes full of predators,
    And yes those hooks even when released the scars are still visible.
    A telling piece of writing dear Bela.. It takes time to untangle ourselves from those painful hooks.. But you are right, once we have the courage to face taking them out, painful though they may be at first as often the wound has healed around them..
    We free ourselves for the cords they implanted..

    I hope you find the balmy waters of tranquillity in which to swim.. For the Pod of your tribe swim by your side.. ❀ πŸŠβ€β™‚οΈπŸŒˆπŸ’•

    1. Aloha Sue, and exactly right – love how you say ‘the cords they implanted.’ Ahh, yes. And I love how you remind me that my tribe has my back, because I’ve said this to so many others, but tend to forget it for myself. And life is demonstrating this just this morning, in fact! Love to you, dear Sue! ❀

  9. Painfully beautiful and beautifully painful, Bela. For me this resonated so much because you have managed skilfully, to not only illustrate the painful aspects of life, but also shown the beauty too – they are so indelibly linked somehow. For a time, all I chose to see was the painful aspect, and like you ‘thrown across the room at 3 by your ponytail”, I would continually looked at my father’s teeth marks embedded in my small 5 year old wrist for something I had done to anger him. When I say “I chose”, I don’t mean it in the sense that I was blameworthy or had contributed to the situation – but that it was my way of questioning such cruelty and not being able to come up with the answer. What else could I do? But with time and growth (literally and metaphorically) we are able to free ourselves in terms of healing when you say:

    “On an on I swam, for what else is a dolphin to do;
    each day the waters remained the same, each day
    they changed, some tinged with toxic debris,
    at other times those brilliant hues of turquoise
    and indigo were balm to a weary heart and now,
    decades later, I discover tiny hooks embedded still.
    As I carefully dislodge each barb, there is
    searing pain mitigated by relief; I am free,
    if scarred. I am free”.

    Now, I know that you are not only talking about cruelty here, but also all of what life encapsulates, but that particular part stood out for me because cruelty was my experience too for over 20 years and it does take time to sort out in one’s mind. I think you are an amazing woman, and as I said in another comment to someone else who has suffered too, they say that life is what you make it, but I say that life is what makes you! Much love, dear Bela! oxo

    1. You are too kind, Marie. Amazing perhaps, and flawed. But we all are that, so I don’t beat myself up so badly anymore. You know, life goes on the way it does, of course. Yet when we are scarred by cruelty from those we feel are also our protectors, ahhh … that makes for a very confusing life for awhile.

      Some rely on religion, therapy, whatever. I have explored every avenue possible, and taken a bit from each – there is wisdom in many places. And I’ve found so much healing in nature, which I’m sure is apparent in what I write.

      This poem was written as part of my Renshi group cycle – linked poetry with women I’ve written with on this island for many years. It goes like this: the last line of one person’s poem becomes my first, and my last becomes another’s first, and on we go. These women consist of Hawaiian, Japanese, Tongan, Filipino and Caucasian backgrounds. Each voice is unique to their cultural background, as well. I feel privileged to be part of this group, because each line continues to prompt something different, deeper, uniquely significant. Some of these poems I publish here and some are pretty deep and dark, so I don’t. This particular poem was kind of in the middle – something for everybody – haha! πŸ˜‰ Yet I think we can all relate to the scars and the survival part, if we live long enough.

      Love back to you, dear Marie – thanks again for your thoughts, always mega-appreciated. ❀

      1. Thank you for sharing with me Bela – I love that way of writing poetry with others – it sounds like a very healing community. I also feel that despite all that has happened to you, you are so open and giving and grateful – how wonderful that you have ended up where you are in such a nurturing place. ❀ ❀

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