I am blessed that with the morning poems, I have a little wiggle room. I can start with a few lines in the first fraction of my morning, with my robe and my coffee that I noisily inhale. Thank God Velcro can't talk, he would probably say, "GOD, Mother. Could you slurp any louder?" He loves to start each bedtime with a resounding, satisfied burp, so it's not like he's a paragon of good home etiquette, either.
Sometimes I sit in front of the computer and write a bit in my journal with the big blank pages. I scribble down something, anything, and then go get in the shower. When I'm a really good girl I take my shower first, right when I pry myself out of bed. Then I gather coffee and scrounge around for a good pen and turn on music (everything I've loaded into iTunes). Always music, one way or the other. The scales poem came swimming in while I sat on the couch the other day, listening to music a room away. I'm finding that I need music to write, at least to jump start my brain, to help me walk boldly into that space where I can start pulling things off the shelves and into the pot.
Whatever happens, I very rarely finish the poem. Last week I tried to do that but then they kept lingering. Or, maybe I finish it, but I want to let it percolate. So I drive to work in a mad rush, always late, singing at the top of lungs, letting music feed me. Sometimes I listen quietly and wait for those musical moments that give me strength, hope, laughter. I remember who I am, so many times, while I drive my red car, a moving musical. Sometimes I even hold up my hands like I'm recieving the Holy Spirit or something, which I feel odd about (the lifting of hands, not the Holy Spirit), yet I do it without thinking. I just find myself in that place, well, with one hand on the wheel, of course. Yesterday was a bad day, when I realized that the iPod thingy that I plug into the cigarette lighter in the car was broken. Springs everywhere. It was a terrible thing. What was I going to do without my music infusion? So it wasn't surprising when the day derailed and the only thing that made it better was my mama's infinite love for me, and some damn fine cornbread. And the best tamales I've ever eaten.
When a quiet moment comes in the midst of teaching, I take a sheet of blank paper, fold it in half, and start scribbling. I look out the window a lot, tap my pen. I put the paper away, pull it back out. Sometimes it feels like I'm dealing with a kid having a major meltdown - give it space, back away, then dart in for a hug when they finally collapse into sobs. When I catch the thread of what the poem wants to say, it feels like I've just made it into the last elevator going down or up, that moment where you barely slip through the space. In a movie it would be that moment I came face to face with my one true love, and maybe I have. I could write a million metaphors, but what it always feels is like when you unlock your front door, and you breathe, finally, I'm home.
I find I always edit a bit when I type them out, in ways that surprise me. There's something about the spatial sense of the "compose post" screen where I find myself rearranging lines or realizing what's really necessary or not at this point. This is the most elementary of editing. All of it makes me think about this story I've heard; how Eudora Welty would literally cut out her sentences and rearrange them. Thank all the heavens I don't have to resort to that, but it makes me smile.
I usually think it's terribly juvenile and cheesy to dedicate a poem or song to someone, but whatever, I live to change my mind. I wrote this one on Monday or Tuesday, but never posted it. So, Rebekah, you who have been one of my biggest, most speak-to-my-heart encouragers, and now it's time to turn the tables. This one is for you. Of course I didn't realize until after it was written that it was for you.
the morning shadow
falls in a straight dark line
a path to walk
for ants, room enough
for one brave human step
travelling in and departing out
of the lands of sadness and fear
one swallow suspended in the corner of the sky.
follow her, now, she will show you where to go
your way as beautiful
as the light that shines
around the leaf's edge.
morning poem #9