Poetry month, April in her infinite melancholy, has passed. I let her pass me by without attending one reading, without doing one collaboration, without buying one book of poetry. I did write one poem. And that poem was about not having words.
I have gone to the birds for an explanation of the words becoming dross, flight not the only thing birds have to teach, their keen eyes watching over hot pavement, their intrepid waiting. I used to pray for more, writing "clarity" in my journal, beg for some trail of metaphorical bread crumbs.
But May has shown me her mercy, giving me back, if not passion, a sure desire for words. Not only mine, but the poets we publish in Tiger's Eye. I think about them often, and often let them down. Someone is upset we held his work too long, another poet pulled her poem before we asked for it. A chapbook is published with errors, and we have to start over. These things are real and immediate, leaving me feeling that any job, paid or unpaid, literary or otherwise, is fraught with disappointment. Tenacity is needed. And vision. And plain old shoulder-to-the-wheel effort.
Outside my window the wind is kicking up as the sun sets a little later tonight. Neighbors are coming home from work, a woman rides up with a Burly following behind. She unbuckles her small son and he climbs out, then she drags the bike and Burly upstairs. Someone speaks Spanish. Someone speaks English. A dog yips twice.
And suddenly I'm grateful for the cool air, my husband chopping small red potatoes in the kitchen, the dog always constantly near. Such subtlety is where I choose to live, in the liminal places, the before and after that make us nervous. There are words here, there are worlds here, and possibly poems.
Tonight, that poor damn dog the neighbors leave on their tiny back porch seems tragic and holy at the same time. I want to name him Lonesome, the name of my childhood German Shepherd. I want someone to let him indoors, to stroke his good strong head, to appreciate him.
And that is it, appreciation. To be appreciated. To be seen. Heard.
May is giving me ears to hear, and a voice to speak, and the sky is on fire with something I can't begin to name. It feels so much like autumn and yet I know the heat is coming, the stifling months of light and sweat and discomfort. But here in this moment, this unquenchable need to speak the unspoken, to speak of the unspeakable.
Words. My words.
My writing often deals with the environment, my poetry filled with allusions to natural and man-made disasters. I have unlimited hope though, there is just too much wonder in this world to become a defeatist. As Margaret J. Wheatley said, Hopelessness has surprised me with patience.