The Power of Ten

 

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What is it about the years divisible by ten?  All the milestone birthdays are in increments of ten — people especially note turning 30 or 40, 50 or 60.  Money rolls out in increments of ten.  We celebrate anniversaries of major events in tens — marriages, assassinations, great scientific achievements, disasters.  Pretty much everything would be counted in tens if we used the metric system like the rest of the world.  Ten means starting again, because that second digit comes in, the need to go back to the first finger to continue keeping track.

I’m thinking about this because in May it will be ten years since Eric died, and right now it’s ten years since Eric began to be really sick, though we didn’t realize yet that he was dying.

Dawn has crept further and further into the night and now I’m waking up many mornings with light already in the sky, after months of being up for hours in the dark.  Birdsong comes along with the light, the beginning chatter of birds awakening to the next season, starting to build nests and call to each other to mate and start the whole cycle of birth and death again.  The rise in morning birdsong is burned into my psyche as signifying the rise in Eric’s cancer.  Birdsong = Impending Death.

Not very spring-like.  But there it is, the twittering of purple finches and melodic call of a robin and the chink of red-winged blackbirds.  I wrote a poem about it this morning, one of many in a long line of poems about what spring birdsong means to me now (like the first poem in The Truth About Death, which I posted here around this time last year).

But there’s a twist this year.  I also made a collage.  Does that have anything to do with the tenth anniversary of Eric’s illness and death?  Or is it simply the process of aging and getting better at giving myself permission to do things because I want to, because I have an urge to create in a different way, because I care less and less what it means and just want to do it.

I’m  signing up for a drawing class.  Maybe next I’ll draw the birds.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
This entry was posted in Art, Grief, Life Changes, Light, Poetry, Seasons. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Power of Ten

  1. mukul chand says:

    Lovely picture and post.

  2. naahn says:

    Beautiful piece, Grace. It felt like we were having a conversation. It was definitely not Memorex. Funny, to come across this tonight, when this morning at work, we were explaining to an early 20s friend, how important your 30th birthday is and that it’s a must have party. We went on to all decide 16th birthdays are big, the 21st, 30, 40, 50, 60, and then 75, 80, 90, 100.  We all wondered why 70ths are nothing special, and so 25ths are unremarkable, yet 75ths are cause for celebration?   We may be hard-wired to find patterns, but this one is so random. Nancy Stewart(603)724-3209

  3. Grace Mattern says:

    Thanks, Nancy. 70 being unremarkable, we’re thinking we’ll have a big 69th party for David. He’ll be in his 70th year. Wow! 70!

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