Sunday, May 31, 2009

One Single Impression -- Denouement

letting go of the denouement

too many hours
for the denouement:
all the knots untangled
loose threads
woven neatly
bound with silk ribbons
pink and gold
and a card

May 30, 2009

I remember when I first heard the word denouement in high school. I loved the smooth French sounds, the soft ending of the word. I loved its meaning even more than its sound. The denouement is my favorite point of every novel, where all the little pieces of the puzzle are explained, all the relationships sorted out, and the story is finally put to rest. Problem is, I expected life to be like that, to have that moment, when all the story lines are laid to rest, all the questions answered.

Carolyn G. Heilbrun, professor of English at Columbia University and writer of mysteries under the name Amanda Cross, wrote the following in her work Writing a Woman's Life:
"We women have lived too much with closure: 'If he notices me, if I marry him, if I get into college, if I get this work accepted, if I get that job' -- there always seemed to loom the possibility of something being over, settled, sweeping clear the way for contentment. This is the delusion of a passive life. When hope for closure is abandoned, when there is an end to fantasy, adventure for women will begin."
I think however, this false desire for closure lies in many men as well as women. Heilbrun herself, in the end was unable to let it go, and seeking the ultimate closure ended her own life.

I have found in my own life, that just when I imagine my story is winding down and the denouement is upon me, that something new and fresh falls from the sky -- sometimes scary, sometimes sad, sometimes difficult, but often extraordinarily exciting and challenging.

For more poems on the prompt "denouement" check out One Single Impression.


anthonynorth said...

This is so true. As I see it the journey is the important thing.

lissa said...

I like your impression of denouement and your optimistic view ("that something new and fresh falls from the sky")

and the poem says so much of our expectations and like Anthony said, "the journey is the important thing."

SandyCarlson said...

I remember first hearing and loving the word in high school, too, Sue. And I remember in my 20s realizing things don't really go like that. And I fell in love with Beckett.

Wonderful, wonderful poem.

Jim said...

Hi Sue, you hit the nail head on for me, "too many hours lost waiting" is why I don't read many novels or watch the crime shows on TV.
Yes, we expect all of life to be explained and handed to us in a nice looking package. Trouble is, ...
I didn't hear of the word until midlife, my second life. That is when I returned to college and studied literature. I only had three years of English in H.S. and so didn't have it there.
I remember after Mrs. Jim and I were married we had a fairly heated discussion about the word. She associated it with 'climax' but my teacher used definition No. two which I like to use.
That second definition is the finishing up work after the climax (crook is revealed). There she said all the loose ends are closed and there may even be a nice little vignette, perhaps showing how everyone was happy for evermore.

gautami tripathy said...

This word stays in mind.

Your poem is very good..

OSI: the air hisses and crackles

Beth P. said...

Dearest Sue--

I appreciated your poem, but I loved the explanatory notes afterward.

Yes, something always falls on my head too. Amazing.

Thank you for this!!

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent reminder - when it's over, denouement has been reached. And rarely, in the way we choose to envision it. Love this poem!

Sandra.if said...

nice images!

gabrielle said...

This World is not Conclusion.
A species stands beyond-
Invisible, as Music-
But positive, as Sound-
Emily Dickenson

Judy Chicago had a wonderful ongoing piece about how we as women wait. A woman in a rocking chair: Waiting for my period to come, waiting waiting. It was very powerful.

And so is your poem. Your commentary was very dear.

zoya gautam said...


Quiet Paths said...

What a terrific post with so much insight into living and the day to day... life happens while you are busy making other plans.

irenet said...

Sue, I like your ponderings on the word.

Anonymous said...

I never thought of it in terms of life, but you are right.
And, thank goodness for those unexpected twists and turns. Mine have been much better than my plans!

Geraldine said...

Thanks for this inspiring read. I like how you've interpreted this prompt Sue. Well done. And so true...