The Gate

The Gate

Between you and I
Is the Gate
Winter’s shivery doorway
A numbed wall of silence
Obstructed with evasive answers
Strengthened by the Season’s backbone
This glacial blocked channel
Is the obstacle of my communication

I stand at my own frontier
Barred entrance to you     Mother
A raw crisp life
Icy barriers down forever
I weep weathering my love

The gate is the passage
I hunger to tread
A tainted love
Cradle my hand Mother
Let my pen’s warmth
Etch into your chilled heart
Curl the frozen vapour
Of an unoccupied life

In this bitterest of Seasons
See the child who plays alone
Soaked in light white flakes
She dances a silent reverie     waiting
For the warmth of weather that thaws

Between you and I
Is the Gate

Copyright © Deborah Gregory 2014

18 thoughts on “The Gate

  1. God damn that bloody gate! Lol

    In my experience of life – sometimes the gate is closed for a reason. It doesn’t mean that one cannot enter the gate – it just means that a different approach is needed cos folk that shut the gate – only shut it for one reason – and that reason is to eliminate all avenues of pain – so the gate can be opened but just requires a lot of patience and understanding into why the gate was shut in the first place.

    Well I hope you followed that cos I’m not sure I did! Lol Xxx

    Fantastic write Deborah I must say.

    1. Oh I love it when you interact with my poetry. I get your gist for sure! And fully understand the reasoning behind ‘the closing of the gate.’ I wrote this particular poem somewhere in my early thirties, perhaps 32 years old and it forever remains one of my all-time favourites. Thank you so much Bathsheba for your wonderful, insightful reply.

  2. Dear Deborah,
    Just beautiful.
    Gates remind me of descent these days. The places where we remove what we thought we needed or were identified with until we are stripped and without comfort or protection.
    Through your images, I remember my mother’s icy unwillingness to grieve or love after my father died. The risk must have been too great. I understand now, but as a grieving girl, there was only cold distance. You speak of more cutting and bitter ice than that.
    I love the waiting and promise of the second to last stanza.
    Blessed Solstice to you and thank you,
    Elaine

    1. Dear Elaine, thank you so much for your wonderful gift of words, truly appreciated. Today, I find myself in a reflective mood, where this afternoon I pulled out all my diaries from the last six years (since meeting Jung) and have been slowly, leisurely reading them … no doubt this will carry on for a while. It’s been an incredible journey.

      Ah! All thanks to your fab book review I have been ‘descending for more than a week now, with tears flowing most days, more releasing I guess (I hope). Gates, descent … yes that feels right and in the process of doing so I’ve noticed today how my mind feels completely hi-jacked by my heart, who’s definitely doing more of the talking.

      I’m sorry to hear how you suffered that loss of human warmth following your dad’s death. For me, it is only with hindsight that I realise my mother’s cold silences were more or less initiatory for me to turn within … preparing me well for the journey to come.

      “Psyche listens to psyche, heart listens to heart.” – Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Catching the Thread: Sufism, Dreamwork & Jungian Psychology … a book which I highly recommend.

      Blessings always, Deborah.

  3. Such a strong opening to this one that leads into a poem filled with emotion Deborah. I think it is interesting that you chose a gate that you could see through as your image – perhaps this is how you have seen through your father only to be confronted with the blanket of ice surrounding your mothers heart? This is truly a heart wrenching poem that so clearly evokes the feeling of estrangement that sadly happens in families – superb!

    1. You know I hadn’t (consciously) even considered why I chose ‘a gate I could see through’ and feel that your interpretation is spot-on as there were several other gate images I could have chosen but didn’t. Thank you so much Sophia for your warm-hearted reply and for helping me understand my poem so much further.

      Yes, a ‘blanket of ice’ around my mother’s heart perfectly describes her overly animus, ‘thinking’ typology … a true ‘snow queen’ indeed! Thank goodness for Jung and no surprise for guessing that my superior function is ‘Feeling.’ So my mother’s (and mine!) inferior function/s have fallen deep into our Shadows … makes perfect sense!

      Ah! As always I’m called back to ‘the tension of the opposites’ … Oh my goddess I love, love, love Jungian Psychology and how it enlightens with its rich, healing language. Helping me to understand my family and my psyche’s estrangements so much more. Warm winter wishes, Deborah.

  4. “Between you and I/Is the Gate” very, very good! This is strong poetry Deborah!!
    Your winter scene speaks volumes and makes me want to cry.
    Can I ask where the gate in the picture is taken?
    Every single line hits home for me…..awesome! “Barred entrance to you Mother/A raw crisp life” your words say it so well…. .much better than I could do.
    Even though it makes me feel sad, I keep reading this one.
    Leaving for work, have a good day!!

    1. Dear poet, please know that I always appreciate your wonderful words! Continually, you’re so generous with comments, and reflections. The photo was taken about three years ago, maybe four in the village of Avebury, in Wiltshire … when most of England was very much covered with snow. Happy Monday Claire! … Hope the day finds you well. 🙂

  5. Dear Deborah, a very touching poem – as always – which makes one shiver with regret even more given the seasonal appropriateness of the piece. You are the one with experience in psychology, but from my non-savvy perspective, and from events I’ve lived through in my own life, I’d say that with cold people there’s an almost tangible, palpable disconnect inside them. It’s as if some of their inner wiring (to parts of themselves they don’t want to accept) is pulled out of the power socket. They are, in a way, only partially alive. Interactions with cold people can definitely feel like there is an “icy barrier” that “bars entrance” as you say. One is left with a feeling of having been totally rejected. What I find interesting is you use the image of a gate, not a wall, which is what I might have used. A gate implies something that can be easily opened, something light, something that’s not forever. From my understanding, this suggests young Deborah’s willingness (hope) to open that gate, although, sadly the reality is that she “weeps weathering her love” for her mother. Deeply poignant writing. Very powerful imagery. Huuuuuuuugs & blessings, Sam 🙂

    1. Dear Sam, I’m totally astounded to receive such a rich, amazing response to my poem! Thank you so very much for your kind-hearted and compassionate reply. ‘Pulled out of the power socket’ your apt words fittingly describe the cold-heartedness and iciness I received from my rejecting, ‘partially alive’ parents.

      When I read your further interpretations of the ‘gate’ metaphor, I wept. I had not considered this before, had not considered even in my twenties when I first wrote this poem, that one day I would be able to ‘open’ that closed gate and finally become that liberated sheep in her post shepherd world. Sam, there are no words! Love and blessings, Deborah. 🙂

  6. Beautiful poem Deborah thank you for sharing it with us. Clearly psychological, though in spite of the gate being weighted down with snow, it can be opened and gone through. Or climbed over.. that photograph is very stark, graphic and lovely.

    1. ‘Or climbed over’ so true! Thank you so much Susan for your wonderful comment, much appreciated. When I first wrote this poem I felt that I was writing about my father, who back then, was the obstacle to me finding a way to my mother … or so I thought. Today, nearly 30 years later, its meaning seems to have transformed so much along those years … thank you for helping me understand my Self more.

  7. Insightful and intuitive, a difficult poem to leave. I realize the weight and restriction of snow halts the gate from being opened. When related psychologically to emotional states your poem becomes exceptional. Frozen, unmoving the heart loses all feeling. The image of the dancing girl is sad and moving. Excellent work Deborah. I enjoyed the simplicity of your bleak image. Even if you don’t usually read poetry buy this book! You will never regret it. All the best Liz.

    1. Ah! Thank you so much for your amazing response to my poem Liz, that’s so very kind of you. Please know that I’m deeply touched by your generosity. I love what you say about ‘the weight and restriction’ of snow, that’s so clear and such a succinct way of describing how the ‘emotional freeze’ impacts on the separation between me and my/the (great) mother. Many thanks for your spirited zest! Warm greetings, Deborah.

  8. Simply stunning poetry! I felt like I was there in the snow-white garden watching it all take place. How I wanted to set the snow on fire Deborah and thaw out that, “Bitterest of Seasons.” I want to set the dancing girl free and melt her Mother’s frozen heart. Your poem shakes me up, reminding me of my own Mother and how she is freezing my Brother out of her heart. I’m intrigued, is “The Gate” your Father? It’s just that you don’t mention him in this poem and having read your complete poetry book I cannot think who else this “Gate” metaphor could mean. I hope that’s okay to ask, many thanks, Lily.

    1. It’s funny when I first wrote this poem, many years ago, yes, I had my father in mind for the gate. There was this quote by the incredible poet Adrienne Rich that I deeply resonated with back then … ‘The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born.’ I recently reread that line in ‘Descent to the Goddess’ … which always, always touches me deeply … and now in later life alongside my personal mother, I sense I was also unconsciously writing about the separation I had experienced from the Great Mother herself.

      ‘Growing up alienating myself from my own feminine ground and my mother who I considered weak and irrelevant I identified with my father and his world …’ Sylvia Brinton Perera. It’s wonderful how a poem keeps on giving, even many years later … so much more to discover, I haven’t explained that very well hopefully my words will make sense … Ha-ha! Well some of them. Thank you so much Lily for your great comment, ‘set the snow on fire’ wow! That’s so poetic! Warm winter wishes, Deborah.

      1. Morning Deborah, thank you for coming back to me. I’m always interested to read your other replies because now I’m wondering what the hell I’m writing about myself! Huh! Maybe in 30 years’ time I’ll understand. I haven’t heard that quote before, Adrienne’s words have stopped me in my tracks ..really they could be mine!!

        1. Lily, I have learnt so much more about myself and my poetry from the wonderful, generous comments I receive on my poetry blog. Adrienne Rich is one of my all-time favourite poetry heroes … I love how her poetry broke taboos and questioned all that was being accepted. I’m going to post one of my favourites of hers below … a poem I feel I need to read every single year of my life. Hope you enjoy, it’s called ‘Diving into the Wreck’ if you haven’t read this incredible poem already.

          Diving into the Wreck

          First having read the book of myths,
          and loaded the camera,
          and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
          I put on
          the body-armor of black rubber
          the absurd flippers
          the grave and awkward mask.
          I am having to do this
          not like Cousteau with his
          assiduous team
          aboard the sun-flooded schooner
          but here alone.

          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.
          Otherwise
          it is a piece of maritime floss
          some sundry equipment.

          I go down.
          Rung after rung and still
          the oxygen immerses me
          the blue light
          the clear atoms
          of our human air.
          I go down.
          My flippers cripple me,
          I crawl like an insect down the ladder
          and there is no one
          to tell me when the ocean
          will begin.

          First the air is blue and then
          it is bluer and then green and then
          black I am blacking out and yet
          my mask is powerful
          it pumps my blood with power
          the sea is another story
          the sea is not a question of power
          I have to learn alone
          to turn my body without force
          in the deep element.

          And now: it is easy to forget
          what I came for
          among so many who have always
          lived here
          swaying their crenellated fans
          between the reefs
          and besides
          you breathe differently down here.

          I came to explore the wreck.
          The words are purposes.
          The words are maps.
          I came to see the damage that was done
          and the treasures that prevail.
          I stroke the beam of my lamp
          slowly along the flank
          of something more permanent
          than fish or weed

          the thing I came for:
          the wreck and not the story of the wreck
          the thing itself and not the myth
          the drowned face always staring
          toward the sun
          the evidence of damage
          worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
          the ribs of the disaster
          curving their assertion
          among the tentative haunters.

          This is the place.
          And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
          streams black, the merman in his armored body.
          We circle silently
          about the wreck
          we dive into the hold.
          I am she: I am he

          whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
          whose breasts still bear the stress
          whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
          obscurely inside barrels
          half-wedged and left to rot
          we are the half-destroyed instruments
          that once held to a course
          the water-eaten log
          the fouled compass

          We are, I am, you are
          by cowardice or courage
          the one who find our way
          back to this scene
          carrying a knife, a camera
          a book of myths
          in which
          our names do not appear.

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