Thursday, April 20, 2006

telephone and teaspoon ice cream

I went through them again last night, all the poems. I was killing time before midnight and there they were--not in their usual places, not printed, laid out across the floor. There was no red wine. I was not alone, not listening to sad melodies (once, I organized my manuscript while listening to two full Tori Amos albums; once, while a Fleetwood Mac concert played on PBS).

This time it was upbeat music, happy, new, on the headphones. I lit no candles. Stayed at my desk, shuffled poems on the computer as if playing solitaire. It was fun. My roommate watched Seinfeld in the background. I had nothing at stake, no deadline. One hour became three.

I did one small thing and then everything fell open. I could see all of it laid out down to the end where the dark is less dark, the dire less dire. In a flash for the first time in ten years of writing them, I could picture the poems on a page, could picture them published, bound. A few months ago, this seemed hopeless. Again, I could be wrong, will see it in a few more months, the glaring error. But for now at least, a way runs through me, thick and flush, a stronger vein.

I'm a slow slow writer. I don't have five unpublished manuscripts--I have one and it's slim, fifty pages. Much of me didn't make it here.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with ideas and impulse: for my poetry manuscript, my novel, nonfiction, ice cream flavors, opera. Things I don't understand. Things that don't have names. I have to slow down and hope that they'll wait. I'm just trying to get one thing right, and then will move on to others.

I often feel misplaced. I didn't go to the right schools. I don't have the language. I can't lay down like that. I say what I feel. I say it from my stomach and try not to look back. I'm just trying to get one.

Today the little girl, four or five, was unable to take her eyes off my cheap little silver shoes. The girl's eyes widened. Her mouth dropped open, and I watched her watch me. She followed my feet all the way across the courtyard.

I don't know the name for what I'm doing. I don't know if what I'm doing is right. I don't know what right is.

But keep your eyes on me. I dazzle when the sun hits.