From the Diary #12: Diving into the wreck… with friends

‘There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.’

Adrienne Rich Diving into the Wreck


There’s been a lot of nostalgia in my life over the past few weeks.  Old photos posted on Facebook, an 80s playlist for a friend’s 40th birthday weekend getaway, late afternoon martinis with my husband and sister talking about our wild teenage years.

I am used to thinking about the past.  I use my poetry as a form of incremental autobiography, capturing my past and my inner landscape glimpse by glimpse, poem by poem.  Adrienne Rich’s metaphor of diving into the wreck is an important one for me.  It speaks to me of the act of remembering, the sense of shock and awe of what is found, memories that need restoring to make sense, the role of the poet as archaeologist.

But there is a different flavour to remembering as a group.  It becomes a tool for recovering what is shared, and this sense of shared history forges bonds of connection.

As a child and a teenager I never realised how many memories would be carried into adulthood, and that those hefty memories could be as heavy or as light as I chose.  Sometimes memories come crashing in, or I come crashing into them. Sometimes I have not chosen the ladder and have instead dived down too deeply.  I have not taken the proper precautions and I’ve been reckless in entering a wreck which is crumbling and dangerous.  I have found myself trapped.

It’s not like that when I remember with loved ones.  They are the hands reaching into the dangerzone, hooking me around the waist and dragging me free, free enough to observe the wreck from the outside.  I do not have to go down with the ship.

When I am writing it is necessary to dive down to the abandoned ship alone.  But this is okay so long as, from time to time, I remember to visit the wreck with friends and use their perspective to forge a shared history.  Our sense of connection helps build my permanent ladder to safety.

And if, on occasion, we take a daytrip to the wreck with a delicious violet martini in our hands, then all the better…


6 thoughts on “From the Diary #12: Diving into the wreck… with friends

  1. I love this- I am a big fan of Adrienne Rich. We just read Dream of a Common Language for my book group. I have loved her for years- I just found out recently that we went to the same high school, which I was so excited about. I love your thoughts about memory. You sound like a very wise teenager- already thinking about the weight of memories. This is beautiful.


    • Thanks so much, Caroline. I am very impressed that you went to the same high school as Ms Rich ~ what pedigree you have! I read DoaCL whilst at university and it is impossibly thoughtful and beautiful writing. As for being a wise teenager, I was certainly thoughtful, but wise would be pushing a definition :-O


  2. they say the past is exactly where it belongs, but I love this take on finding the love in the wreck of nostalgia. your violet martini also looks divine! 🙂 XO


    • Thanks, Dawn – I think there is much wisdom in what you say about the past. I’ve had to accept that exploring it is part of my calling – and a woman’s got to do what she’s called to do! PS violet martini=much deliciousness 💜


  3. Love this: “visit the wreck with friends and use their perspective to forge a shared history”. So much food for thought. Thanks for writing this.


    • Thanks Julia – I think the solitary nature of a writing life has a danger of blurring perspective and needs community to balance this. Blogging has the potential to forge shared stories too 🙂


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