Love is Not Anonymous

By Jan Wood

Love is Not Anonymous
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Love is Not Anonymous is an exploration of the expectations and heartaches often projected onto women’s lives and their spiritual journeys. The complexities of coming of age as a woman are presented with humour and parody as Jan Wood leads us on a journey through the many ... Read more


Overview

Love is Not Anonymous is an exploration of the expectations and heartaches often projected onto women’s lives and their spiritual journeys. The complexities of coming of age as a woman are presented with humour and parody as Jan Wood leads us on a journey through the many realms of love from first love and infatuation to marriage, motherhood, and even extramarital temptation. Spiritual love and the challenges of faith are also examined as Wood juxtaposes the competing themes of belief and female sexuality, examining the pain and injustice to which women are subjected in the realms of both love and faith and searching for order and meaning in the two most complicated territories of human experience. Spirituality is at the forefront as Wood reflects on her religious background and converses directly with God in the interspersed “godtalk.com” poems. She illustrates a relationship to God that is physical and intellectual as well as transcendent, often drawing out the romantic elements of spirituality as in “/is/there/a/prayer/to/mend/this?” when she bargains with God, promising to pay [him] back/on her knees.” Elsewhere she wrestles with the challenges of faith when she confesses, “I liked you more when I thought/there was an alternate plan/with side benefits for being good.” Despite these uncertainties, however, “she cannot leave/the idea of him/alone.” Wood also explores women’s issues and the experiences of women as they battle the expectations of both innocence and inherent sinfulness projected onto them in the realms of love and faith. The biblical Eve is a recurring character as Wood reflects on the sexual repression enforced by church and society, and the dark side of a woman’s experience is explored in poems about domestic abuse (“Duplex”), prostitution (“Sometimes She’s Afraid to be Loved”), and the lethal conclusion of being female (“Invasion”). Feminist undertones show through in Wood’s narratives, but she refuses to be hemmed in by definitions, writing in “Mary, a Woman” that “she does not desire equality but freedom to celebrate/her differences,” vocalizing the exhaustion many women experience at “being the culprit and the icon.” She also celebrates the complexity of love and sexuality with honest portraits of teenagers sneaking out on a winter evening (“She Pretends”) and experienced lovers revealing secrets by firelight (“Salvage”). These poems are small confirmations that love signs its name on everyone who seeks it, and they reveal the difficulties women face on the journey to well-being and wholeness.

Jan Wood

Jan Wood’s poetry and flash fiction have appeared many anthologies and literary journals, winning accolades in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario. She won the poetry award at the Word Guild Canadian Christian Writing Awards three times and was selected Poet Laureate for Utmost Christian Writers from 2008 to 2010. She is an active member of the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild, the Ontario Poetry Society, Inscribe, and other smaller writing groups. Wood resides in Big River, Saskatchewan.

Excerpt

“The Sin Nobody Wanted”

 

was born behind the barn

                where she danced

                like Salome

and the boys watched,

                looking for an excuse

                for what pressed their zippers

they claimed her skirt too high,

                her legs too bare

                and tempting

 

she refused to be blamed

                Grandfather paid

                for masses

the priest prepared a cleanse,

                amid the incense

                and thou-shall-not’s

she escaped

                surprised to find

                she wasn’t alone

 

when the elements are served

                she is not invited

                to the table

the boys and family gather

                at the altar

                with cupped hands

she kneels in the back pew

                longs to lift the emptiness

                of her own

 

“Insinuations”

 

Listen. Eve fell!

It is so syrupy-tragic who could stop the gossip?

It was no leap for attention, there are onsite photos.

 

Perhaps she stumbled, pitched forward accidently

I wonder why she was so close to the edge

In the first place

 

She fell.

Who cares if it was feet-first, backwards

Or head-over-heels?  She is fallen.

 

It’s not as if she will continue to fall

She’ll get back up on her feet again.

What is that helmet?

 

A standard pink model, of course,

She’ll have to wear it, a percentage of the profit

Will be donated to reconstructive surgery

 

This is not a national disaster,

Government grants to set up the barricades.

 Are not necessary

 

They have evidence and a witness. She fell!

She has to be restricted from elevated areas

It’s her fault

 

Reminds me of an eagle’s nest

Perhaps she was pushed

Did they check her back?

 

What have eagles got to do with this?

Wings?

You are not suggesting this was a flight?

 

“godtalk.com/after the funeral”

 

there you are

in a wake

of cards and cold-cuts

holding my hand in yours

massaging my fingers

into slender reeds

lifting songs from them

refrains complex as chromosomes

quiver

beneath

blur the boundaries

so intimately

words dry up

 

my tears do not

 

forgive me

you murmur

i am unable

not to

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