For a poet, I think I’m late to the nesting and writing stages of coronavirus grief. But thanks to a cat, perimenopause and Natalie Goldberg, I’m here now.
i’ve said out loud to anyone who’ll hear me that a small part of me believes that loss of my poetry mojo is punishment for leaving my marriage. i recognize how foolish it sounds, but i also know people who think it to be the perfect karma. most of me, of course, knows i’ll get the mojo back, and i’m willing to be patient. well, maybe patient’s not quite the right word.
lots of bloggers understandably get excited by the amount of traffic they receive. if my blog had traffic, i would probably get excited, too. instead, it’s strange little things that make me happy, a few very telling anecdotes that provide some order amid the chaos.
at least half the nights now, the sun takes her heat with her when she goes, a sure sign that it is late august. we’re closing in on fall, and the most sensitive leaves are turning color already. with fall comes the beginning of school — the chaos of homework and sports schedules, the thick clumsiness of early morning, meals on the run. this fall, it’s not just the boys who are heading back to school. i’ve finally taken the plunge into an MFA program.
a warm august evening on willett street. one of my neighbors asks what i’m reading. before i can answer, his partner tells him, she’s not reading. she’s writing. she’s a poet. i tilt my head as far back as it goes and admire the crooked line against the sky made by roofs of the brownstones and the church on the corner. it is the border between the positive and negative spaces. a metaphor, if ever there were one.
i don’t remember my own grief very well. i’m not sure i’ve done much of it at all. nothing that has a narrative, for sure, like these memoirs seem to. and i can’t really access it: what was i doing while she was sick? what was i thinking about? who was around me? how did i feel when … and yet cheryl and natalie nail it. it makes me think of how incredibly important it is to tell the stories we can tell.
as one of the “women poets of willett street,” i featured at poets in the park last night. this 4- or 5-part series (saturdays in july) is one of my favorite local poetry events. and now, since i live on washington park, it’s a few steps from my door. though i read other work, i focused my reading on poems set in downtown albany, including a couple new ones, like the one below. i wrote it after the boys and i decided to be tourists in our own city, and so we booked a tour with the albany aquaducks on the company’s final weekend of doing business locally.
lean into as many first kisses as it takes: / the stoop where lips meet at 2 a.m. belongs to you, / as does the empty sidewalk and the soft orange / halo around the street lamp. the quiet is yours, / as well, along with the strange shadow / of a tree on your neighbor’s front door