Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Why We Tell Stories

So, the world wide web is quite the place. We've all fallen into a Wiki hole or gone searching for a Golden Girls clip on YouTube only to end up, hours later, watching a brunette Alabaman perform her own home birth. Or something. It can be a long and winding road. One can slip into the same kind of chain reaction in the vast and varied world of blogs.

If I'm reading about drapes or custom-tailored suits from French Guiana, I often link to other people's little corner of the universe. I've stumbled upon many which have entered my daily check list. Just a few days ago a young man from Utah commented on my blog. I can't tell for certain, but there was a familiarity to his comment, as if he'd been reading for months and decided today would be the day he'd say something. I've been there, lurking in the shadows, reading at my leisure. And then, one day, I think to myself, "I should say something. She doesn't even know I'm here!"

His comment, of course, led me to his blog, a mix of the thoughtful and the whimsical, the deep and the very shallow. I like it. He posted a lovely poem, and I generally do not enjoy poetry. But it reminds me of my sister, one of my favourite storytellers. And perhaps it sums up why people have blogs, which at times seem so insurmountably narcissistic.

So, like he before me, I will post this poem for you to read.

Why We Tell Stories

Lise Mueller

Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

and because our children believe
they can fly, an instinct retained
from when the bones in our arms
were shaped like zithers and broke
neatly under their feathers

and because before we had lungs
we knew how far it was to the bottom
as we floated open-eyed
like painted scarves through the scenery
of dreams, and because we awakened

and learned to speak

We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else
and because we had survived
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,
we discovered bones that rose
from the dark earth and sang
as white birds in the trees

Because the story of our life
becomes our life

Because each of us tells
the same story
but tells it differently

and none of us tells it
the same way twice

Because grandmothers looking like spiders
want to enchant the children
and grandfathers need to convince us
what happened happened because of them

and though we listen only
haphazardly, with one ear,
we will begin our story
with the word and


  1. " ...I can't tell for certain, but there was a familiarity to his comment, as if he'd been reading for months and decided today would be the day he'd say something."

    That is uncanny! I've been reading since Kanye West, Superstar (although I cannot remember for the life of me how I got here. I seem to remember being at Apartment Therapy before, so maybe?)

    That, or you are really working you're Google Analytics.

  2. Hilarious.
    Not working my Google Analytics.
    I could just feel it.

    Kanye West, Superstar. That's going back. Thanks for reading.

  3. From Utah....Washington DC.... amazing how one blog can bring so many people together :)

  4. THAT is a lovely poem. It feels like my favourite sweater and the cottage.

  5. Well now. This is interesting. Funny that we were just talking about poetry. And here one is. This is a good one. I do enjoy a good storyteller.