We spend so much time talking about the frustrations of poetry--from the perils of revision to the difficulties of publication--and so little time talking about how lucky we are to be poets. Once, during a fight with a lover, he snapped, You don't know what it's like, to not know what you want to do. And he had a point. For better or for worse, for twenty years I have known what I wanted to do: write poetry. It hasn't always been easy, and it's certainly never been financially viable, but it's been a steady priority. And that (along with a good scotch) brings some comfort at the end of the day.
Have you ever been reading about some historical figure, found some passing reference to that person's love of poetry, and--no matter the political, nationality, or eccentricity--felt a spark of kinship? Yep.
Have you ever arrived at an art colony, heard the painters and the sculptors talk about unpacking and prep work and UPS delivery, and thought happily of the simplicity of the your supplies? A pen and a pad. A laptop and an outlet. Yep.
Have you ever had a decent walk--maybe 10 blocks, maybe from the subway to home--and been able to use that time to draft the opening of a poem? Yep.
Face it: we're lucky bastards.
I thought it appropriate to close this week with a poem by Rose MacMurray. Thanks to the opportunity to share Sunday's essay in this venue I am now in contact with Adelaide, Rose's daughter, who has done heroic work to keep her mother's legacy alive by continuing to promote Rose's novel (Afternoons With Emily), her poems, and her ideas for working with younger writers. On the eve of Mother's Day, I have to say: Lolly, as proud as you are of your mother--she would be even more proud of you.
This poem is from Trips, Journeys Voyages, the first single-author volume of poetry I ever bought.
(for Jessica, age nine)
In Cozumel, the white gulls skim the sea
(Yes, and the white terns too.)
Their breasts reflect the Caribbean then,
and the intricate understructure of their wings
repeats that blue, that blue.
We saw this once, we saw it once again
and then no more--so twice will have to do.
Jessica, you can keep these things.
Long after Cozumel, long after me,
you will have that blue, that blue.
Thanks to the folks at Best American Poetry for giving me this space. Thank you for following along. If you want to continue our conversations, come find me at my blog, Chicks Dig Poetry.