30 days took a break for a week while my sister was in town. More beautiful on that to come. Today, I was helping with art camp with our girls at The Covering House, and our topic was poetry. I remembered a time I was a poet and watched the girls write their own. I remembered a journal entry I wrote earlier this year. So 30 days of beautiful is back: on poetry.
I was a poetry student in the creative writing program at UNC-CH, graduated with honors from the department. We wrote hundreds of lines together. Two years later, I can count the number of poems I’ve written since graduation on one, maybe two hands.
A reflection (on criticism) —
When I lean into the sink, that’s always when my sister asks me if I’m writing poems in my head, words forming to the motion of dishwashing — forget dishwashing — I want to say I only write poems at night now, only when I’m falling asleep, only when I have the privacy to utter the words I don’t even let form when it’s daylight: words for power, powerful sentences with a rhythm worth humming.
I want to say I only write poems at night– or at least that I write poems at all — but I don’t. I don’t write poems anymore. I don’t have the neurons for that anymore. No pathways for red blood innovation that seeps into moments like dishwashing where I forget I am washing dishes and only my sister’s voice breaking through reminds me there’s still a world that isn’t linguistic ivory, no haven of iambic. No, I broke free from such daydreams.
I couldn’t afford the emotions they gave me, couldn’t call myself a happy person with these poems writing themselves bloody along the inner walls of my skull like scratching the truth into concrete with my nails, whispering, read this, read this—
I once wrote a poem about blueberries, or more about a boy who laughed like he was filled with blueberries. I think it was the last poem I ever meant. I wrote so many poems for college workshops and let my peers swing on those poems like panting monkeys on a jungle gym, as they half-clambered, half-dismantled, unhinged my words and asked me to revise. So I never meant another poem I wrote because you can’t mean anything you say in fear.
Not of course. Not I see. Not I love you. Not yes, please.