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  Josie Abbenante
Laguna, New Mexico

The pomegranate has been a significant symbol for me since childhood.  I was so excited to participate in this show and awaited the mail with impatience for its arrival.  Upon opening the package I was taken with the dried out hollowness and then with the continuing beauty of its "star".  I was also struck by the eaten away parts that looked like hearts to me.  The pomegranate sat on my desk and I worked with it a little at a time at first letting it speak to me as I worked at the computer.  For many days it sat with the red pencil resting through it, having been colored and white-washed as it seemed to both want to be seen in its usual red smoothness and in its dying. 

I felt the desire to enshrine the pomegranate and began to work with found objects and boxes.  There were tubes from roses received, tamarind seeds from a honeymoon in Jamaica left of the fruit we ate, walnut  and other nut shells found in the fall among the rustling leaves in southern Virginia, a rusted out key  from a sardine can that seemed to want to rest in the opening as if it had twisted out the heart shaped hole, boxes from cell phones that seemed to be like altars, a gauze tea bag from dinner in Santa Fe with good friends, and the corsage I was given to wear at the wedding of my birth daughter.

It seemed to be speaking to me of the loss and yet of the gifts.  The loss of my daughter relinquished for adoption at birth, the gift of having found her and sharing the joy of her children now, and the loss of my hope for further children in a hysterectomy some years ago.  The dried out shell of the pomegranate brought forth these memories and thoughts from the moment of opening its box.

What I found in sitting with it and in trying unsuccessfully to enshrine it was that I loved it.  And this made the hurts seem irrelevant, the regrets seem old, and the heart seem precious.



I remembered a journal entry from a journal started back when I began to wonder about living my work life differently.  It was a Rumi journal interspersed with Rumi quotes and images that an artist had created.  On a page in that journal I had cut out a pomegranate and its seeds and placed the image on a page with a Rumi line:

Though we seem to be sleeping,
there is an inner wakefulness
that directs the dream,
and that will eventually startle us back
to the truth of who we are.

And in the article about the pomegranate was a description that I copied into my journal along with the note that I wish I Had written it!

“…glittering rubies, drawn into a smooth round purse.  Inside the leathery skin, clusters of gently faceted capsules packed in a honeycomb arrangement are guarded by a cottony, bitter pith.  The opened pomegranate, with its bloodred juice and its dark seeds spilling from ivory bindings, has been a vibrant emblem of fertility and resurrection for millennia” (Jonathon Hayes in Martha Stewart Living, December 2002, p. 220)

It does indeed seem a resurrection of fertility, of the creative, and it rests now back on my desk, red pencil through it, a reminder of the blessing it is and the call to make art.


Josie's photograph
Josie Abbenante is an artist and art therapist.

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