“Mind Wave (For Virginia Woolf)”


Mind Wave (For Virginia Woolf)

One bemoans but understands
the stones,

thinking of a mind that, like
a wave, washed crevices, even
those not known
to be inlets, seeping between grains
of sand, nuances
of dust; a fractal mind that
traced a perimeter so much bigger than
its area (a coastline infinite, if intricately
measured, no
matter the isle’s square miles)–

A beam-from-a-lighthouse mind that
in its illumination of
what was writ got all
the way to “q”–a quadratic of empathy–a mind
that could put itself in the shoes of
any person, beast, street, room–its floorboards
creaking–shaping the handle of a pen knife, the tug
upon a mustache or
heart, a woman’s carried bag, time, space and, finally,
ash, the blitz
of two generations.

One thinks
of the fatigue of
impersonation, the burden of voices
heard, articulated, not
drowned out–

A mind that got to “q” but not perhaps
to “r” as in relief or respite, that, sleepless, heedless, seething
as a wave, sought weights against such

one hates the stones–


I wrote the above poem (and made the drawing) for a prompt made by Fireblossom to write about a famous person for the poetry blog Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads.  Virginia Woolf, great lyrical writer of the twentieth century, and certainly one of my favorites, died by drowning herself, after filling her pockets with stones.

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24 Comments on ““Mind Wave (For Virginia Woolf)””

  1. brian miller Says:

    A beam-from-a-lighthouse mind..a pretty cool description that…really like the play with the q and the r….this is a really tight write k….

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Brian — the q business kind of comes from To The Lighthouse where Mr. Ramsay is thinking of his placement in the world of philosphers. k.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    She’s always puzzled me, but of course, I’m pretty ignorant of her finer points. I think I learned more about her from this poem than my less than enthusiastic reading about her. (Not fond of suicides, though I certainly can see the argument for it here.It’s bad enough having all the versions of me in my head, without the rest f the world there, too.) I particularly like the fractal mind stanza–you are laying out a personality, but also a gift/curse, lifting the hood and revealing what makes the cogs spin, till they no longer can.

  3. shanyns Says:

    This is really good, and I learned more about her than I ever knew before.

  4. jinksy Says:

    a mind
    that could put itself in the shoes of
    any person

    …Deserves to be famous! 🙂

  5. I so admire your deep understanding of Virginia Woolf, as shown through your words here. I confess to being quite unmoved by her writing, but I just don’t think I ever got it the way you have. This is a wonderful piece.

  6. Wow, I didn’t really know that much about her, certainly not how she drowned herself.

    There are such awesome bursts of amazingness in this, K, the whole lighthouse mind idea, the tug upon the mustache and heart, the lady’s carried bag. And more.

    You are really a super-talented poet and I am glad to know you.

    And….. your button is now up on my site, whooohooo.


  7. Susan Says:

    “seeping between grains
    of sand, nuances
    of dust; a fractal mind that
    traced a perimeter so much bigger than
    its area”

    I love the borders: I cannot put every line I love here without repeating the whole poem. For all of the reasons you detail and embroider “One bemoans but understands / the stones . . . .” Thank you!

  8. I love the way you play with sounds throughout. Especially this:

    matter the isle’s square miles)–”

    Excellent offering both poem and drawing! I’m glad to learn more about Virginia Wolfe, too. Thank you!

  9. coalblack Says:

    Any mind that could come up with “Orlando” had to be an incredible one. I like the way you’ve portrayed what it’s like to live with such a creative, long-reaching, cacophonous mind. And yes, hate the stones. Have you seen the movie “The Hours”? I thought it was rather good.

  10. ds Says:

    Ohhhh….To the Lighthouse is my favorite of her novels. Love the sly refs to Mr Ramsay. You have caught her beautifully in word and drawing. Thank you!

  11. This is beautiful! You have really captured her style in remembering her – well done.

  12. Marian Says:

    very, very nice, resonant, appropriately reverent for such a force of nature as VW. love your drawing, too.

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