Home > General > Maya and me and a surprising connection

Maya and me and a surprising connection

Countless words are being written this week about Maya Angelou by those whose lives she touched with her words.  Count me among them.

A paperback copy of Dr. Angelou’s book of poems, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” has been plucked regularly from my bookshelf, and  I was thrilled to be in the audience when the author read her poem by the same name at our local college.  But it was only by chance that I realized her poetry has impacted me on more than just a conscious level.

The sad news of Dr. Angelou’s passing came across the Internet a few days ago as I was updating my website.  That’s when I saw it.  My unconscious, unintended, but unmistakable connection to the poet and her most famous metaphor.

Years ago when I was developing the oldestdaughter.com website, I had wanted an image on the home page that conveyed the site’s objective of “encouraging oldest daughters to find and foster our own possibilities, free of any limitations that might be left over from childhood  expectations.”

I chose a drawing of a stick-figure female at the moment she flies through the wide-opened door of a birdcage.  Nothing holding her back – she’s being carried by the wind into an open blue yonder, complete with friendly, puffy white clouds.   Uncaged.  Free.  In complete contrast to that of the caged bird who “sings of freedom” denied at the time by a racially locked society.

Before this week I had never thought of my website’s image in connection with Maya Angelou’s poem.  So for the first time, I looked closely at the rest of the drawing to see what else I might have missed.

The opened birdcage sits atop a colorless base covered in lines of grayed words that I can’t quite make out — sort of like a message in a half-remembered dream. Do they form the “sentence” that once kept the red-shirted stick figure “en-caged”?

I was thrust into my own metaphoric journey. What underlying words are written in the psyches of oldest daughters? If/when we push open whatever cage confines us, what songs could we sing?

The poet’s passing caused me to look anew at something familiar.  To catch a glimpse of something I hadn’t “seen” before.  To consider possibilities.

That’s what poets do — it’s what Maya Angelou did for me even as she left us.

 

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Categories: General Tags: ,
  1. June 2, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Maya Angelou was such a lovely woman. She inspired me at a young age to want to be a writer and I am so excited to finally be getting to write and illustrate children’s books. Thank you for sharing your beautiful remarks. Best wishes,
    Trina Licavoli Gunzel

  2. June 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Great food for thought! The caged bird – a perfect analogy for the oldest daughter. Thanks for bringing this to the rest of us. The image is firmly implanted. D’Ann Dreiling

  3. cbarnickel@kc.rr.com
    June 3, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    very nicely said

    Please note:

    My email address has changed. My new email address is: CaroleAnnBarnickel@GMail.COM

  4. Kristin Russell
    June 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Beautifully written.

  5. Annie Schudy
    June 10, 2014 at 2:48 am

    The connection fits!

  6. Noreen P.
    June 12, 2014 at 2:08 am

    nice article, Pat. Keep up the great work, so we can enjoy!

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