No, It’s Not Hemingway

I’m not one who casually hits “share” on Facebook very often, but this one? It caught my attention. The source I picked up claimed this poem was by Ernest Hemingway, but I knew right off the bat that this wasn’t from the same pen than gave us “For Whom The Bell Tolls” or “The Old Man And The Sea.” Instead, it’s more likely by a woman named Erin Hansen, who often signs her poetry e.h. – and is, in fact, often mistaken for Hemingway because of those initials.

Not too surprisingly, the poem resonated with lots of women on my friends list.

It’s not my all time favorite. There are a few of those, and I’ll share sometime.

This one reminds me of a verse on one of those Blue Mountain cards, carefully crafted to tug the heart strings just a bit.

But in spite of all that, I give you Erin Hansen’s poem today, with a little running commentary, just from me.

You are not your age,

  • Maybe not, but Maya Angelou says that I’m every age I’ve ever been….including the one I’m at today. 

Nor the size of the clothes you wear,

  • A rather gloomy measure of self worth anyway, since clothing manufacturers use “vanity sizing” to convince us that we’re smaller than we really are….They say that today’s size 8 equates to a 1950’s size 16. 

You are not a weight,

  • Oh, this one’s tricky. Yes, I weigh myself every day. It’s an obsession. I know I’m not the number on the scale. I know that, really. But I have to see it. 

Or the color of your hair.

  • I swore I’d never go the hair color route. Then one day, my hairdresser Donna tipped me off that when your hair loses pigment, it also loses shine. As a little girl, I learned to count to 100 while brushing my long hair to make it shine. I’m not willing to compromise on shiny hair. I’ve spent way too much over the years maintaining that shiny hair. 

You are not your name,

  • A rose by any other name….but the truth is, if I had to choose a different name, I don’t know of one that would fit me any better. If nothing else, having an unusual name has made me curious about names in general. 

Or the dimples in your cheeks,

  • No comment!

You are all the books you read,

  • Your bookcases (yes, plural) tell others more about you than anything else in your home. When I visit someone with books, I always ask permission to look. It’s personal. It’s revealing. And often, it’s common ground. 

And all the words you speak,

  • All of them. My husband Mike says, “You can’t unring a bell.” And while I love the written word, spoken words carry like the peal of a bell. So the cultural acceptance of women calling women friends their “bitches” or Blacks using the “N” word as a sign of brotherhood and acceptance just doesn’t sit quite right. 

You are your croaky morning voice,

  • Not often. I don’t talk when I wake up, as you may have read in this entry. 

And the smiles you try to hide,

  • Why try to hide a smile? Just smile. If smiling doesn’t come easily, try this: push your tongue against the roof of your mouth, and you’ll always get a perfect smile. Daniel Pink says you can’t “fake” a smile – that your eyes will give you away. I don’t know if he’s tried the trick with his tongue. 

You are the sweetness in your laughter,

  • When I was seven, I got in trouble at school…for laughing too much.  I had to stand in the corner. Imagine that, by today’s standards: Disciplining a child because she’s entirely too happy!  I was in good company, though. My friend Jenni was punished for reading too much, and artist Mary Englebreit got in trouble for drawing. 

And every tear you’ve cried,

  • Yeah, a few. 

You’re the songs you sing so loudly when you know you’re all alone,

  • What are your “sing out loud” songs? And if it’s been a while, let me assure you that it’s time. Dance a little, too; it’s good for the soul. Nobody’s watching – it’s ok. 

You’re the places you’ve been to,

  • The places where you can say, “I’ve breathed the air in that spot.” And the places you’ve yet to go, as you drive a new stretch of road…

And the one that you call home,

  • “Home” is a topic all its own. The home we live in, the home we’re from, the home we create, the place we go home to. It’s the place that’s most familiar, the place we can breathe easy, the place we’d click our ruby slippers to get to. 

You’re the things that you believe in,

  • Sometimes I fear that we’re a little shaky on this part, as a society. We don’t have to all believe in the same things, and we certainly don’t have to agree on everything. But it is possible, this century, to go through life without much thought about what you believe in. Our days can easily fill with work and media and “stuff” – and introspection gets overlooked. Indeed, we’re the things we believe in, and I guess we owe it to ourselves to know what those things are. 

And the people that you love,

  • It all comes down to just a few things in life. And one of those things is the people that you love. It’s easy to say, “Family, of course, and friends,” but loving is complicated business. And maybe that’s what makes it so precious. 

You’re the photos in your bedroom,

  • We once listed our house for sale and set out to “stage” it for an open house.It was an interesting exercise as we turned our home into a “model” devoid of personal photos (and everything else, it seemed!) The house went from being “ours” to a stark – albeit near perfect – display. It could have belonged to anyone. 

And the future you dream of,

  • Do you dream of the future? Children do. But as we turn the corner and become grownups, do we allow our dreams to wither? Do we stop dreaming?  If someone asked you this very instant what your dreams were….what would you say?

You’re made of so much beauty,

  • Oh, what a loaded word: Beauty. Women strive to meet external standards of beauty, are judged by it, and sometimes nothing else matters. 

But it seems you forgot,
When you decided that you were defined…By all the things you’re not.

  • You decide…how you are defined. You decide….what’s real and important about you. You decide….

~e.h

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One Response to No, It’s Not Hemingway

  1. Jay says:

    I just read this and realized I was name-checked! Thanks. And I love it. Glad to see you writing again.

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