I think I may have mentioned before that I used to write poetry. In fact, for years, it was really what got me through school. At first, I liked it because, well, I could finish a poem. Then, all I felt, all the ugliness and misery, the longing and hope, I could write. I could express it all, like lancing a boil.
Some of it was your usual drech, but, as I practiced with my poetry muscles and fed it Shakespeare and Sexton and Robinson and Plath, I became better. My first actual publication was in a Vampire Magazine for poetry.
At college, we would read our poems at soirees run by one of my favorite faculty members (Hello, Phil Coleman) and people loved my work. They’d want copies. We’d all bond and talk about out work over coffee and cookies. I was sure I would be a poet for the rest of my life.
But I wasn’t. I think trying to settle into life, trying to become a good wife, then trying to become a good divorcee…you would think it would be fodder, that it would have fed my muse and let me churn out lots of confessionalist, painful, honest and maybe even awesome stuff. But my nerve endings were too seared for the words to come out, and eventually my poetry muscle atrophied as I turned to short stories and novels.
Every once in a great while, I’ll write a poem. But both of the ones I actually finished are more story than poem.
Then last week, I wrote a poem that was more about the soul than about the story.
And today, I wrote another. It was short, but I like short ones, you do not need a huge word count to try and capture a feeling or situation. I used to write them all the time, and I called them mnemonic devices. And today, I wrote a poem in an email, and I thought, “I need to call it something.”
And then I realized. Not only had I written a poem, I’d written a mnemonic device for the first time in 13, 14 years. It fit all the personal rules I had set up for this series of poems.
You probably think I’m silly and a little pretentious, but I am so happy I might just weep. To steal a line from Anne Sexton, the music is swimming back to me. Now to nurture that flame.