Original Poem: "Southern Woman" with Commentary

Updated on May 12, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, and taking a creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my growing interest.

Helen Richardson

My Mother, In Memoriam  Mother's Day 2018
My Mother, In Memoriam Mother's Day 2018

Introduction and Text of "Southern Woman"

This poem originates from a deep desire to impart my deep love for my own mother who lived on this earth from June 27, 1923 until September 5, 1981. I loved my mother with the love that my guru, Paramahansa Yogananda expressed for his mother in his Autobiography of a Yogi: "I loved Mother as my dearest friend on earth. Her solacing black eyes had been my surest refuge in the trifling tragedies of childhood."

Leaving this earth-plane at the early age of fifty-eight years, my mother was not able to realize the growing affection I held for her, for I was not yet ready to express such a deeply held affection, at the early age of thirty-five years. With all my heart and mind, I hold the faith that she can now sense the strong bond I feel with her. She did not require enduring to the septuagenarian stage of life before earning release from a flawed physical encasement. I'm sure she does not hold that again me that I have required all those additional years. After liberation is final, it is complete.

Southern Woman

for my mother

Through astral reverie, I visit your essence,
Lingering alongside that of your beloved father—
The grandfather who escaped this earth prison
Before I was sentenced to its concrete and bars.

You are the same small brown woman with black
Hair and eyes of fire that flash, imparting to me
You intuit I am near, perceiving you both—my first
Look at the Greek grandfather I never met.

Our Greekness on this planet has led
Us back to a logical legendary ancestor—
A strong Spartacus whose love of freedom spread
Even as he perished like Christ on a cross.

But you are a pure American South woman
And if any Kentucky woman deserves the title
Of steel magnolia, it is you, who through a frail
Body still attests the strength of a Sandow.

Your ethereal mind reminds me of the day
We saw those two turtles come into the yard.
Standing over them, we marveled, and I will never
Forget what you said: “If we had shells like that,

We would be protected from the dangers of this world.”
And I felt that I was in the presence of a wise master.
It was only later that I realized the full impact
Of what seemed a simple yet deep message—

We need a protective shell even more to shield
The heart than the head, for it is through the emotions
That we inflict enormous damage on our souls. I am
Blessed and grateful to inform you I finally understand.

Reading of "Southern Woman"

My Mother, Helen Richardson, circa 1960

Source

Commentary

In Memoriam: Helen Richardson
June 27, 1923 - September 5, 1981

First Stanza: A Visit to the Astral Plane

Through astral reverie, I visit your essence,
Lingering alongside that of your beloved father—
The grandfather who escaped this earth prison
Before I was sentenced to its concrete and bars.

The speaker is uniting with her mother on the astral level of being. Souls on earth who have been close and continue to love one another are able to recognize the essence of the departed souls, whether in dreams or in reality after both souls have left their physical encasements. The speaker suggests that the soul she is encountering remains on the astral level in close proximity to the mother's father, that is, the "grandfather" of the speaker.

The grandfather has left his physical encasement before the speaker took incarnate form on the earth level, but because of the attraction of love, she is capable of recognizing the beloved father of her beloved mother. That the two are lingering in close proximity is the logical outcome of the earth-level appeal of love between the relatives.

The speaker is dramatizing an earth-level "dream" that she terms "astral reverie." That signifies that the dream is a special dream, or a true dream that comes after many years of contact with the astral level of being through deep prayer and concentration on the soul essence within the physical encasement. Deep concentration at the heart chakra especially converts heart and brain of the devotee of transformative techniques into an instrument that may perceive visions or indications from the astral level of being. These indication may come in the form of ordinary dreams but they may also appear as true visions that are meant to inform and encourage the devotee who has become capable of experiencing those visions.

Second Stanza: Unspeakable Bonds of Love

You are the same small brown woman with black
Hair and eyes of fire that flash, imparting to me
You intuit I am near, perceiving you both—my first
Look at the Greek grandfather I never met.

Even though the soul possesses no earthly features of race, gender, nationality, height, weight etc, the astral bodies of those departed souls still retain features that are recognizable to those who loved them on the physical level; thus, the devotee/speaker is able to recognize her departed mother whose astral body retains the similar features that she displayed while incarnated: the mother was a brown-skinned woman with dark features, including black hair and dark eyes.

Even though the speaker has revealed that her grandfather had left the physical earth before the speaker appeared on it, the speaker can also recognize that grandfather, likely from memory of photographs of the man or even from descriptions recounted to her by her mother. The speaker reveals that her ancestry through her mother and grandfather comes from the earthly geographic location known as the country Greece.

Because of the intense power of intuition, the speaker who has become adept at visualization is able to "dream" this real dream that presents to her the astral presence of both her beloved mother and her mother's beloved father. The joy of such a reunion must remain unspeakable, as it is remembered that the speaker was never afforded the opportunity to physically come into the presence of her maternal grandfather. The bonds of love that bring together such a reunion is rare on the earth plane.

Third Stanza: Ancestral Allusion

Our Greekness on this planet has led
Us back to a logical legendary ancestor—
A strong Spartacus whose love of freedom spread
Even as he perished like Christ on a cross.

The speaker then alludes to the ancient Greek slave who led an uprising against the Romans, circa 70 B.C., and then after his capture was crucified along with many of his fellow warriors along the Apian Way. The speaker is conflating the grandfather's immigration to the United States with the freedom that the ancient Greek attempted for his followers.

The love of freedom remains a powerful force on all levels of being. The earth level with its ugly institutions of slavery have throughout history influenced freedom-fighters to break their chains and seek liberation of not only the body, but also the mind and soul. The freedom to hold and express one's most cherished beliefs has also urged the courageous to seek and maintain that level of freedom for the mind.

And most importantly, the desire to believe and practice according to one's spiritual faith has prompted those of the revolutionary heart to wage war against all forms of religious oppression. Every century of physical world history has seen the ground run red with the blood of those who would gain and retain the God-given right to believe as they choose.

Fourth Stanza: Strength of Spirit

But you are a pure American South woman
And if any Kentucky woman deserves the title
Of steel magnolia, it is you, who through a frail
Body still attests the strength of a Sandow.

The speaker then continues to allude to earth-plane physical features, as she reveals that her mother was a daughter of the American South, more specifically the state of Kentucky. Because the magnolia tree is nurtured mainly in the southern part of the United States, the expression for a strong individual southerner, especially a woman, has resulted in "steel magnolia."

But despite the fact that the speaker's mother was strong in mind and spirit, the mother suffered a "frail / Body." But to the speaker, the physical body remains much less important than the strong "Sandow" characteristics of the mother's mind and soul. The love, admiration, and respect the speaker holds for her mother remain the central players in the drama of the speaker's life. The speaker's spiritual life has been directed and formed through the influence of this amazingly strong souled steel magnolia, this flower made of a metal that had lifted and carried the speaker over the many trials and tribulations into the blessed light where the speaker was capable of absorbing the teaching of a Divine Guru who leads her flawlessly to the Divine Creator.

Fifth Stanza: Two Allegorical Turtles

Your ethereal mind reminds me of the day
We saw those two turtles come into the yard.
Standing over them, we marveled, and I will never
Forget what you said: “If we had shells like that,

The speaker now focuses on an incident that the mother and daughter experienced while the mother still remained in the physical encasement. As they stand together observing two turtles that mysteriously appeared in their yard, the mother seemed to spin off one of her gems of wisdom similar to those that the speaker, no doubt, had heard many times before. But this time the remark seemed to catch the speaker's heart in a new way.

Sixth Stanza: Pearls of Wisdom

We would be protected from the dangers of this world.”
And I felt that I was in the presence of a wise master.
It was only later that I realized the full impact
Of what seemed a simple yet deep message—

The pearl of wisdom—“If we had shells like that, / We would be protected from the dangers of this world”—was, in fact, so profound that the speaker did not fully grasp it at the time. And although she has lived with the wisdom of this remarkable woman, with this particular pearl of wisdom, she sensed that she has suddenly become spirited into the "presence of a wise master." The speaker deems those words "simple yet deep." The message took root in the speaker's mind and heart.

Seventh Stanza: Gratitude for Full Understanding

We need a protective shell even more to shield
The heart than the head, for it is through the emotions
That we inflict enormous damage on our souls. I am
Blessed and grateful to inform you I finally understand.

The speaker then after admitting the lapse between the mother's spoken words and the speaker/daughter's full understanding of them thankfully finds herself capable of informing her mother that she finally understands the deep meaning in those words.

Interestingly, the speaker has been able to add her own depth of meaning to those words. While the mother's original statement might seem to have meant protection from physical danger, the daughter's awareness that emotional damage is even worse for the soul demonstrates the profound implication that came clearly ringing in the mother's original pearl of wisdom.

Helen Richardson, circa 1966

Source

An Afterword for Mother's Day 2018

If humankind could only know how deeply words matter to loved ones, the human heart and mind might be more inclined to imbue those words with the deep love and respect that all human beings crave and deserve. If humankind could live life according to the finest ideals held by the finest minds and hearts, each mind and heart would grow wiser each day and deeper in love with those who truly matter in the development and progress of souls.

As humankind looks through dirty windows on a dirty world, the human soul suffers until it frees itself from the blight of ego, selfishness, and narrow materiality. The dream of liberation, the goal of highest love, the relationship between mother and daughter all feature in the journey toward self-awareness.

God Bless all mother and daughters, as they travel their own special paths to self-realization. May your own dreams reward your effort and may your relationships become the gold that buys back your own souls.

Linda Sue Grimes, at SRF Lake Shrine Windmill Chapel

Source

Life Sketch of Linda Sue Grimes

The Windmill Chapel

In the temple of silence
By the lake, we sit
In stillness, meditating
In divine Bliss.

Returning to our daily minds,
We walk out into the sunshine,
And the flowers greet us.

The Literary Life

Born Linda Sue Richardson on January 7, 1946, to Bert and Helen Richardson in Richmond, Indiana, Linda Sue grew up about eight miles south of Richmond in a rustic setting near the Ohio border.

After graduating from Centerville Senior High School in Centerville, Indiana, in 1964, she completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967. She married Ronald Grimes on March 10, 1973.

As a writer, Grimes focuses on poetry, short fiction, politics, spirituality, and vegan/vegetarian cooking, which results in her original veggie recipes.

Literary Studies

Although music was her first love, Grimes considers herself primarily a literary specialist as she creates her own poetry, studies the poetry and literary arts of classic writers, and writes commentaries about classic poems.

However, Grimes does continue to express her love of music by writing her own original songs, which she records, accompanying herself on guitar or keyboard. She shares her musical compositions at SOUNDCLOUD.

After completing the PhD degree in British, American, and World Literature with a cognate in Rhetoric/Composition at Ball State University in 1987, Grimes taught English composition in the English Department at BSU as a contractual assistant professor from 1987 until 1999.

Publishing History

Grimes has published poems in many literary journals, including Sonoma Mandala, Rattle, and The Bellingham Review. She has published three books of poems: Singing in the Silence, Command Performance, and Turtle Woman & Other Poems, and a book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories.

Grimes published her first cookbook in the spring of 2013, titled The Rustic Veggie-Table: 100 Vegan Recipes. She is working on a second cookbook and her fourth book of poems.

Currently, at Owlcation, Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple) posts her poetry commentaries. On LetterPile, she shares her creative writing of poems and short fiction, along with prose commentaries on each piece. She posts recipes resulting from her experimental cooking of vegan/vegetarian dishes. on Delishably. She posts her politically focused pieces at Soapboxie, and her commentaries focusing on music at Spinditty. Pieces on the writing process appear at Hobbylark.

Spirituality

Linda Sue Grimes has been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and a member of his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, since 1978. A Kriyaban since 1979, she has completed the four Kriya Initiations, and she continues to study the teachings and practice the yoga techniques as taught by the great spiritual leader, who is considered to be the "Father of Yoga in the West."

Grimes practices the chants taught by the guru accompanying herself on the harmonium. She serves at her local SRF Meditation Group as one of the chant leaders.

Online Literary Presence

In addition to the contributions of her literary works to Owlcation, LetterPile, and SOUNDCLOUD, Grimes also curates her original creative literary pieces at her literary home, Maya Shedd Temple, on Medium, where she features her creative writing without commentaries.

Grimes also maintains an additional online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Astral Travel / Lucid Dreaming

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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