If you don't enjoy washing the teapot, you won't enjoy drinking the tea, my friend said to me months ago.
It was hot. We were sitting on concrete benches in a Columbus park. We hadn't seen each other in a year, maybe more, have been friends for almost ten. I said it was beautiful. I said I understood, but I didn't.
We watched children in uniforms play outside their school. A whistle blew and they all lined up, grudgingly.
It was something about enjoying right now: this moment with a friend. Something about not wishing always for the future.
But I was wishing then, even as I said I wasn't, wishing it wasn't hot, wishing it wasn't hard, wishing it wasn't far.
I've been trying to write a poem for weeks. I know what I want to say but I can't say it. The truth is, I'm tired. I've had a headache since I was twelve. The acceptance last week is the first since January; I checked in my little book of records. That's almost ten years old, too.
This isn't a race, a writer friend said to me years ago, and I know that, and I think it isn't just about writing, what he said. It's not a race, none of this life. It's endurance. It's holding on.
And you must know I won the arm-hang in elementary school. My teacher taught me how, my teacher who said she escaped death as a child by hanging over a well for hours and hours until she was found.
We pass on how to live.
I have an amazing workshop of old and new friends who send poems and ideas for poems through the either, and an amazing workshop in the flesh of new colleagues who are old friends already, and an amazing new teacher-only my third ever, and considering I found my second, or she found me, this summer, that's a big deal. And I trust him. And I trust myself.
And I am here (you must know I am here, the moon is full), and there is snow, and the man across the street has been standing in front of his house forever, waiting, I think, for a ride, but it seems like he is also watchful, guarding. And I made a simple noodle soup, dropping the eggs in, straining them over a fork the way my boyfriend taught me, and washed the new clay teapot and the small cups after we drank the earthy tea together, and I did enjoy washing it: the soap, the warm water, the smell, the snow in the darkness.
I will open a new file, start the poem over, write in the voice of the one I disagree with, as my teacher suggested, and if that doesn't work, I'll write it again and again, and write a new one, and another one. And I'll start a new book and I'll send them all out again and again and again.
And I will hang here until I am found.