Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taming the Dragon

This is Mrs. Pearl Crawley, a dear friend from 1998 until late 2010.  She was 96 when she died, and she was a wonderful mentor to me those years, with her loving wisdom and service to others.


 Those who produce works of genius are not those who spend their days in the most refined company, whose conversation is the most brilliant, or whose culture is the broadest; they are those who have the ability to stop living for themselves and make a mirror of their personality, so that their lives, however nondescript they may be socially, or even in a way intellectually, are reflected in it. For genius lies in reflective power, and not in the intrinsic quality of the scene reflected.
–Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, translated by James Grieve, p, 129.

When I was younger, late thirties, I learned
that inside me was an inner circling sun
guarded by a dragon. The image stuck.
I’ve tamed the dragon, but no one else has.
It means I’ll be alone now. Odysseus
has left and returned many times, and yet
I remain alone. He could make one more
homecoming, but it seems unlikely.
Meantime, my spirit gathered up the four
corners of my archetype, like folding a
sheet and putting it away. It was a guide,
a series of stepping stones or street lights
I followed along a dark way, from one
pool of light to the next, learning to trust
what lay ahead when I had to walk blind,
one step at a time. It is worth everything
to stand where I stand now. Even as darkness
grows more gloomy in the outer world,
where I once worked with so much passion
and energy, the light in my center burns
brighter, intensifies its swing around its
orbit. Can my written words help?
A black man I’d never met before,
working near me at the polling place,
says that if I write books, "We’ll read

We don’t know how our words
will survive all the hazards of the
twenty-first century, when our human
race has yet to learn care for our planet
village or to imagine the inner landscapes
of people different from ourselves. A few
spirits who can see are all that is needed
to turn us from the weather disasters with
which our polluted air and sea begin
to punish us. Poverty makes friendships
stronger. We still, sadly, learn the hard way,
a truth Sophocles knew centuries ago:
we have to suffer before we learn. Wiser,
we pay more attention to our inner Spirit’s
words and to the love our fellow beings
give us. Even dogs, cats, and chickens
sometimes can’t get through. Obliviousness
is not the worst crime, but it can damage
the love others bear us when we don’t
deserve it.

My path is clear now, and straight.
My all-too-human body has its twinges
and its doubts about all that I still plan
to accomplish, which is why that inner
sun must carry the workload and egg me on.
My greatness is an unknown, and yet I
feel it settle comfortably into the driver’s
seat, turn the key, and tell all the other
passengers: "We’re off."

Judy Hogan


  1. Hi, Judy,
    I seem to have missed Mrs. Crawley's death last November. I'm sure you mentioned it, but it didn't get filed in my memory bank. I'm going to try to post this to see if I can do it right!

  2. Look!I did it! Now if I can remember how next time. S.

  3. This is beautiful, Judy--I love it.

  4. I'm glad you like the poem, Doe, and I'm glad Sharon has mastered posting a comment. I've just mastered getting two photos in the same blog. I'll be gone, to Sharon's and to Malice Domestic's big traditional mystery conference the end of April, early May, but I'll post my report on that when I get back. Judy Hogan

  5. Hurry back and hurry back to blogging!
    If we read writing like the above every morning instead of listening to the news..... wouldn't it be easier to remember to 'fight the good fight?'

  6. Thanks, Meg. After a lovely stay at Sharon and John's bed and breakfast, and exhausting but enlightening days at the Malice Domestic Mystery conference in Bethesda, I'm still mulling all it meant and regathering my energy for a post on the conference. Stay tuned. This weekend, hopefully. More soon. Judy