Midwinter Day

cover of book Midwinter Day by Bernadette Mayer; tree drawing.

In my unresisting picture, all love seen

All said is dented love’s saluted image

Bernadette Mayer, the beat poet, wrote these words in Midwinter Day–the book she wrote on the shortest day of the year while also the mother of two small children. She begins upon waking from a dream:

Stately you came to town in my opening dream

Lately you’ve been showing up alot

I saw clearly

You were staying in the mirror with me..

The book is written in six parts on December 22, 1978, at 100 Main Street, in Lenox, Massachusetts, “an epic poem about a daily routine” (Alice Notley). I love returning to this book at least one day of the year, revisiting the scraps that have stayed with me over the past 13 years since I discovered this little treasure. I’m inspired to think of a woman writing an entire book in a day, doubly inspired to know she did it with two small children running around. It has a stream of conscious feel, like a dream, but each section comes together in ways that deepen the meaning of each image, and this layered sense of meaning continues to unfurl itself to me over the years. The phrase I ponder most is “dented love’s saluted image.”

What could it be? In the context of writing about her mother, her children, her poet partner, and her life I believe it has to do with motherhood, but it could be my own lens is skewed to this subject.

What do you think it is?

For more context, it appears on the last page of part one. Worth the read.