September 8th: The Day Pablo Neruda Came to my Rescue


Cataclysmic 2017 Celebration Painting

September 8

Today, this day was a brimming cup,

today, this day was the immense wave,

today, it was all the earth

Today the stormy sea

lifted us in a kiss

so high that we trembled

in a lightning flash

and, tied, we went down

to sink without untwining.

Today our bodies became vast,

they grew to the edge of the world

and rolled melting

into a single drop

of wax or meteor

Between you and me a new door opened

and someone, still faceless,

was waiting for us there

Pablo Neruda

September 8th is a personal holiday for me, every year I paint a picture on this date. They usually involve lovers and space- this isn't intentional as I try to be as empty of thought as I can be when making this art. Below is the story of how this came about and some of the paintings.

It was September 8th 2012. I was working part-time at a tanning salon so I could make art. I had a tooth ache, a fear of western medicine and a lack of health insurance. I also had an aching heart, and I wasn't sure why so I couldn't talk myself out of it. I laid in bed and stuffed whole garlic cloves into my sore teeth and gums and wept.

I kept saying, "I am just at my wit's end" (my wits are very short, I feel like this several times a month). After about an hour, I quietly asked for some help or comfort, and my eyes landed on a book. It was a copy of Pablo Neruda's Captain's Verses, illustrated by Raul Soldi that my friend, Sarah Bethea had given to me as a gift. I opened to a random page found the poem above.

At first I was like, "WHAT? This is a ridiculous message. I don't even want a lover right now, and nothing in here relates to my life, this day was not brimming cup at all!" Then I read it again more closely, and realized the synchronicity of finding this poem on September 8th. Something that I have no idea how to describe stilled and comforted me then and have honored that feeling by celebrating September 8th as a personal holiday ever since. When I am rich in time and friendship I celebrate by inviting people over and we read the poem out loud and make interpretive art. When times are more contracted and solitary (like now), I still make a painting. I hope that this holiday, and this ritual continue to grow my relationship with this beautiful poem; honestly I am still not totally sure what it means.

Celebrate with me! Paint a painting, draw a picture, sing a song, write a poem, eat good food, kiss someone, do something in honor of this day and this poem! Reading this after the 8th? Put it on your calendar and we will do it together next year.

Below are 2015-2016's paintings (both mine and those of friends, all paintings before that have been lost due to multiple moves).

Zoe and Adamas 2016 Celebration Painting

Julianne Goddard 2015

Stephen Cohen 2015

Sarah Goddard 2015

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