3.29.2012

Spring


Spring has sprung in the cornfield. At least, it did for a while, persuading the daffodils and magnolia trees to bloom, before playing a bit of a joke on the tender buds, leaving them freezer burnt and desiccated after a frost. Or maybe it was the early spring that was the joke, one that both the flowers and I fell for, as we all desperately turned our faces to the sun, eager for the warmth and promise that it brings.

I don’t regret that spring has retreated back behind the curtain of March, lamb-like though it remains. Seasonal norms have me sad for my blooms but glad to instill just a tiny bit of hope that our earth is not quite as badly damaged as I believe it to be. That hope, of course, is just a bedtime story I tell myself, because I have small children and I want a beautiful world for them.

I didn’t expect the scores of daffodils to emerge in the garden on the southern side of my house any more than I expected the hyacinth in the western corner, under the walnut tree, where robust and hearty hostas ruled when we arrived last August. In fact, every shoot, every bud, every bloom is a new and welcome discovery, possibly because it means that there is finally something newer here than me. Sure, they were here last spring before me, but this is our first chance at acquaintance. The hand that waters them is now mine, so we get a chance to forge a new bond. Hopefully, they will be more receptive to my friendly advances than the flowers in the schoolyard.

Tulips are up as well, the pretty ones with the stripes on them, and I am grateful for the meandering dark green leaves of the vines on the ground, surrounding the magnolia and the ash trees, and hiding the remnants of last fall’s soggy, decaying mulch. 

I wish the magnolia trees had been just a tiny bit more patient. Their brown, withered petals, literally flash frozen, open and vulnerable, feel foolish, and remind me too clearly of how quickly and easily beautiful things can go away. 

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3.15.2012

Too Much Happiness



(With apologies to Alice Munro)

I used to write poetry. Lots of poetry. Lots of angsty, angry, clever and cutting poetry. I wrote poetry for many years, through the tumultuous coming-of-age years, through my first, most dramatic relationship, and through its dissolution. I wrote poetry through the years of my most curious, enjoyable and disappointing sexual discovery, through crippling loneliness and creatively motivated sadness. I wrote poetry through the winters of my discontent and the summers of my foolishness.

And then, magically, I just stopped. Well, it wasn’t really magic – it was my husband. Well, it wasn’t really my husband, because back then he was just my boyfriend. But he wasn’t just my boyfriend. He was my sounding board, my light board, my shuffleboard – he was whatever I needed and what made me happy. The drama stopped. And so did the poetry.

My poetry ended almost 13 years ago, just after a beautiful alien walked into my life and made my stomach flip and my toes curl. Life with my beautiful alien has not always been perfect – hell, it hasn’t even always been good – but it’s been solid, and afforded me a footing that I used to search for with words.

I didn’t have to mourn the complete loss of my poetry – it did come back to me every now and then, even if it had ceased to knock me upside the head the way it used to, preferring a gentle tapping at my temple that kept me from sleep at 3 a.m. until I answered to it. But sometimes I did really miss my old friend. My old, angry, clever, caustic friend that used to help me muddle through this ol’ world in a way that not even the most beautiful of alien ever could.

Too much happiness.

That’s why I didn’t write poetry anymore. I could blame my supportive husband, my lack of creative free time, my preoccupation with loving my children, my tiredness. But poetry, for me, in its most basic essence has always been my eye of the storm. My Rosetta stone, translating the chaos of the world into terms that I can understand. And I didn’t feel that chaos as frequently anymore. I still felt the electricity of the world, and it still baffled, and it still saddened and god knows I’ve had some tough moments, but I was not stifled by the drama of it all anymore. So I stopped writing poetry, mostly.

And then I stopped writing here, mostly. Stopped writing in this place where I don’t have to wait for unhappiness to motivate, where the day to day can be exquisitely mundanely beautiful, where I used to feel whole and in charge.

Now I feel, in this space, picked over, ignored, bought, sold, hung, dried, buried under and above it all. Sometimes all at once. Not quite wanting to be a part of where I feel this is all going, but stung at the thought of being left out. Scared to retreat away from this page, relieved at the thought of shutting down. Not sure what it all means, yet sometimes quite sure that I’m the only one that has it all figured out. Utterly baffled. Emboldened by the thought of moving forward without it, desperately scared to leave it behind. Crippled by a different kind of loneliness. Unsure where to go and what to do with this space. And the space that it’s in.

But I’ve been writing poetry again.  

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