on happy poetry and hanging paper lanterns

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the clarity of the last few weeks astounds me. it’s a ridiculously fraught time of year, but you can’t tell that by the smile on my face. so many things i’ve learned about love and romance and affection over the last few years — and the last 20 — mean nothing. there is only this: happiness. if it’s absent, you move on. if it’s present, you hang onto it.

i’m dating (still or again), and there’s someone who puts one of those big, stupid smiles on my face. the other day he asked me (something like), “so what happens if you’re happy? will you still be able to write poems?” it’s the right question, of course. he joked he’d be blamed for me losing my edge, and i joked back that i’d just have to write about winter or dredge up past pains. i even claimed to have 5 or 10 happy poems, though i’d be hard-pressed to pick those out of the mix off the top of my head.

but of course there are many happy poets in my life, and they set great examples about how to write about relationships (my fall-back topic), children, the world, the news, the sky, the moon, the city. it’ll be ok, i’m saying now, even though it has crossed my mind: i’ve relied so heavily on the difficulties, will i know how to do something else? i’m feeling comfortable in my own skin, at home in my new apartment, at ease with this new romance. can i still find a way to be edgy and bold in my poetry?

and part of the clarity of the last few weeks is that i know the answer: i’ll figure it out.

i even stumbled upon something today: how very different it is to be making something new instead of dismantling everything i’ve ever known. that’s going to be an adventure, for sure. i don’t have any idea what i’m doing, and the wonder and amazement at new things have an edge of their own. it used to terrify me to think of what it takes to grow and change because i’ve had some pretty awful things interject themselves in my life. but when you think about friends and blessings and desire and warmth, you can see how these things change you, as well.

and then you do things like finally hang the paper lanterns you’ve kept on a closet shelf for the last 5 years. and instead of wondering what took you so long, you think the timing is absolutely perfect.


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