Theresa Rodriguez

My Journal

Within my world there is a sacred place,
Where I can hide and then reveal my heart;
Where thoughts and feelings go, and become art;
It is a sanctuary, hallowed space.
Creating something new and touched with grace,
I put my mind to pen, and then impart
My soul's outpourings through my mind, to start,
Then show my whole raw self with open face.

And when complete, I then perfect my words,
And get them ready for the world to see;
I take them from these pages, then display
Them out for those who read, and hear. This girds
Me up for naked vulnerability.
Indeed, I offer all I am this way.

The Rise of Fall

There were such pretty flowers in the spring:
The fragrant colors of a verdant time;
Such fresh potentiality, sublime
In all the loveliness that they did bring.
Then summer issued forth a deep wellspring,
Maturely ripening, where vines would climb
And trees begin to bulge. This is the prime
Of life when growth will dance and sway and sing.

But autumn is the time of now. I stand
Amid the harvests and the fruit. The change
Between the then and now, it leaves me jaded;
I barely have the bearings to withstand
This person of today. Indeed, how strange,
How much the beauty of the past has faded.


Theresa Rodriguez is the author of six books, including Jesus and Eros: Sonnets, Poems and Songs (Bardsinger Books, 2015) and Longer Thoughts (Shanti Arts, 2020). Her work has appeared in the Midwest Poetry Review, The Journal of Religion and Intellectual Life, The Leaf (an Anabaptist journal), The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship, and the Society of Classical Poets. Theresa is a retired classical singer who has been a contributing writer for Classical Singer magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in vocal music performance from Skidmore College and a Master of Music from Westminster Choir College. She is also a retired therapeutic musician who provided musical services to institutionalized and senior citizen populations. She founded the Christian Poetry Fellowship of Bethel, Pennsylvania and is a contributing member of the Society of Classical Poets. A native Manhattanite, she lived among the Amish and Mennonites for twenty-five years in rural Pennsylvania but now makes her home outside of Philadelphia. Her website is www.bardsinger.com.


Terese Coe
Mary DeCoste
Julia Griffin
Kathryn Jacobs
Lucy Rose Mihajlich
Sally Nacker
Theresa Rodriguez
Jane Satterfield (Featured Poet)
Leslie Schultz
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The most recent addition to The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline is Aemilia Lanyer by Maryann Corbett.

Eileen Kinch is the recipient of the 2020 Mezzo Cammin Scholarship to the Poetry by the Sea conference.

After my mother died in December, 2014, I and my sister-in-law cleaned out the family home, one day a week for seven months. On the last visit, we found my childhood art. As my folks were packrats, I was not surprised. I didn’t remember that I had made maps from ages 9-11 as subjects for social studies classes, but I recalled loving geography and history. (Coincidentally, for the last 25 years, most of my art has involved cartography.) These map drawings were in organized folders with other assignments inside a rusty filing cabinet lying on its side under the eaves of the dark, unlit attic.

Some months after gathering them up, I gingerly brought them out to study. There was much I recognized about myself: a compulsive attention to detail; fascination with strange, inexplicable images; and experiments with different kinds of representation. Back then, I appropriated meticulously from books, as I still do today from the Internet. This led to a visual dialogue between my childhood and adulthood.

I began to incorporate these schoolroom exercises into paintings. At first, the correspondences were obvious – both the new, painted ground maps and the old, collaged drawings represented New York and New Jersey, for instance. But then, I moved further afield, as my childhood charts covered the globe. I chose antique maps that are geographically incorrect to contemporary eyes for my backgrounds, as I had done on a much smaller scale in a 1998-1999 series of frescoes, Knowledge. Their “wrongness” gave them a childish quality that complemented my elementary school hand.

From our different stages of life, the young girl and the adult woman began to shift back and forth within the pictorial space. I’d also retrieved my childhood doll collection, and some of those toys found their way into the work, parading along shallow stage-like platforms.

I then began to appropriate my other (non-map) childhood drawings, originally book reports or science assignments. Sometimes I arranged them in a row across the top or bottom of the painting, like the predellas in Renaissance art, stories within stories.

I copied tiny animals and sea creatures from my girlhood studies onto the dominant maps; they are visible to the viewer if he/she moves up close. Later, I started to copy entire childhood drawings - which were by then attached to the paintings - directly onto smaller canvases, creating enclosed, subsidiary works excerpted and reinterpreted from the first series. Paint did not capture the nubby, grainy look of the sources, so I bought children’s art supplies – crayons, chalk, cray-pas - and invented for myself a hybrid art-making process.

The worldview of my naïve public school pictures is that of early 1950s America – cowboys at their bonfires in the wide-open west; factories and smokestacks in small town settings; Eskimo girls and Alpine girls and Brazilian girls in their native costumes. The mindset is further away from me today than the places were then. These false scenarios have unraveled for many in my generation, although not everywhere nor for all Americans. And that’s why my conventional grammar school innocence felt weirdly relevant - within our polarized society, where so many people hold onto fantasies about recovering an imaginary past.

32 Poems
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