Sunday, October 6, 2013

My Sister, Myself

                               No one came to her funeral,

                               in the inimitable logic of the family

                               it was held in Puerto Ordaz

                               where no one knew her.

                               In the Tropics burials are not delayed,      
                               and there  were  those that held that

                               the need  for haste was strange.

                              The obligatory Mass was said,

                               Her  favourite flowers , gardenias, sent.

                               Incense  was heavy  in the air if not sorrow.

                                 But this is all by way of conjecture,

                               I was not there, no one in the family

                               notified  me of her death.

                               This parallels another such event

                               When my Roma grandmother died, 

                                and her daughters  busied quarreling

                                amongst themselves  forgot

                                to inform their brother.

                                Yet within minutes of her death I was

                               called by hospital staff, for in Ciudad Bolivar

                               a town in the mouth of the Orinoco’s muddy waters,

                               I’m well known, albeit for patronage of lost causes.

                            My Sister and I, shall we say,

                            had a complicated relationship,

                            We reflected each other through

                            a warped mirror of family loyalties

                            and betrayals, more alike than not.

                            She was the being who loved me the most

                           on earth and hated me with equal ardour

                           and at times,  both at once.

                           Never could fathom the source of the intensity,

                           of either,  and for the most part did not care.

                           Her  voracity for luxuries and indolence.

                           did not abate with age.

                           Perhaps my portrayal is unfair,

                           she could be profligate in generosity

                           and charm,

                          But I have yet to grieve, yet to forgive.

                        Antonia Baranov  


  1. My dear Lady, thank you for showing this to me first. I am honoured, truly.

    That said, this isn't yet a poem. It's too raw, too close to the subject. You need to step back and edit, hard. Find the essence and lose the unnecessary words, the unneeded explanations. Cut to the quick, and there will be a fine poem there.

    I hope you will forgive me comments, as they are meant in the best way. x

    1. Totally agree, bit it has great potential and a story from heart. This is a good constructive criticism ;)

  2. Thanks for sharing Mom, and the site looks really nice.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I am sorry for your loss, even when we don't have the best of relationships with family members, their loss is surely felt. I think all of that shows through here, memories all mixed up in good and bad, but memories, and love, all the same.

  5. Who but family and those we love can evoke such emotion. I agree with Steve that the piece needs fine-tuning but powerful just the same.

  6. Thank you for showing me your poem, Antonia...good to see you writing. Our family certainly do bring out the most complex of emotions in us. An honest & powerful portrayal x

  7. Dear Antonia, I spent a few years in Puerto Ordaz myself and relate to this piece very much. I wouldn't be surprise that we crossed path at some point. I enjoyed the narrative of this piece and I think you can use some more imagery to describe the where about's of that wonderful city and add flavor to the story since you mentioned the cities and the Orinoco. (Those places are deeply rooted in my heart...) Poetically there is a lot of potential yet I would rather like this more as a short story where you can unleash all those feelings you have wondering and raving inside...

    Kepp well


  8. Thank you for alerting me to your new piece, Antonia, and for asking me to give an opinion.

    The subject is a difficult one to render into poetry that conveys emotional depth and leaves the reader with empathy. I feel a coldness, even bitterness, in the piece but it is stated, not conveyed through imagery, and I don't feel the love the poem claims the "I" has for her sister. Feeling is too constrained, as if the truth were too much to put down. The bitterness of not being informed about the death is not, I think, what you want readers to take away.

    What you have written contains possibilities that have not yet been realized as poetry. There is more telling than showing (through imagery, metaphor, etc.), the line breaks seem too arbitrary, and I don't understand some of the punctuation. The piece makes allusions that don't help get to the heart of what you want the piece to evoke. The last stanza, which ends in an unfortunate cliche, I would argue to delete entirely.

    Imagine that gardenia as a metaphor; what might you do with that to evoke the memory of the sister and the pain of her loss? (That could be a poem itself.) How is the smell of the incense like sorrow? What more might you make of the story of "my Roma grandmother" and the alluded-to parallel; how might imagery convey the feeling attending both events. What does a death in a tropical town like Puerto Ordaz look like? What do you want your reader to understand from that title?

    You want to go for a particularly strong ending, not cliche.

    1. Once again dear Antonia, I feel the same way as Maureen and I will stick to my initial commentary. The landscape where this events are happening is rich enough and full of potential to be exploited to convey the message rather than being direct. I think this rather have more potential as a short story than poetry as it is in my opinion.

      I woud make an example here based on the 4th initial verses:

      "Soul empty funeral chambers,
      shattering generations of logic
      and light, decomposed in blue ore
      along the Orinoco flowing banks,
      where she was an unknown ghost..."

      As you see, the potential is there and you need to use the environment and rich imagery to convey your point rather than to tell the story straight if you want to make this a poem. I think as a story the potential exist. As a poem, this is far from being there yet dear Antonia!

      Keep well


  9. i'm sorry for your loss antonia... yet to grieve...yet to forgive... forgiving sometimes takes its time.. the hate and love with equal intensity... that can be overpowering for sure... hope you find that balance and bridge that helps you find peace in this..