New poem out in the world + motherhood meanderings

( http://www.literarymama.com/poetry/archives/2018/02/heirlooms.html )

 

Literary Mama published my poem “Heirlooms,” out today.

Seeing the poem this morning, out in the world such as it is, felt as sudden and as vast as birth. I expected to be more excited to share this creation. Yet a part of me was reserved, held back. It’s new. 

My prayer for every piece of writing I send into the atmosphere is for it to be of service to someone.

In this way, I have to trust that every poem and story is good enough, true enough, beautiful enough, that it makes the trip unbroken to whoever needs it. That it will land and stick and create something ultimately more meaningful that just words on a page.

“Heirlooms” is for my daughter Reese, and also for my mother and grandmother and Reese’s maybe-someday children. It’s for the tunnel of mothers, with all its connections. How we pass through and keep going. How we carry the torch. It is also about the liminal (hazy, oft-desperate, half -asleep but still hopeful) space of new motherhood and how it connects us to the girls we used to be and the women motherhood will make of us.

Motherhood not only often means a newborn baby, but sometimes a new-born self as well. We find a grit, a patience, a resolve, we’ve never known in ourselves. We also discover soft aches, shadows of longing, and deep grief: all that we haven’t done and all we might never do, what we thought we’d be good at and are not. Being somebody’s mother is like walking around all day with a mirror. We are forced to look. We are forced to see. 

We want for our children all the bliss and passion and safe feelings in the world, yet we cannot save them from our own shortcomings. We want to continue to bear the cross of damage wrought by our own mothers, but suddenly we are our mothers: imperfect, mostly well-meaning, mourning the lost, free girls of our own youths.

But there’s still so much hope.

The other day, Reese and I sat down with a tray of watercolors and a canvas I’d been saving since before she was born (to use for the perfect thing, someday when I had a brilliant idea and had found time to take art classes–you know the drill). We painted nothing, and flowers. Space, colors, drips. And it felt good and real, making the time to do something I didn’t have any real expectations of or expertise at. It was another liminal space, like early motherhood. The painting could turn into anything it wanted to be.

Reese and I collaborated. She added gaudy sparkles and puffballs. It wasn’t what I would have done. But I thought of how my own mother let me cover the glass tables in shaving cream to draw in it. So I passed the torch. Whatever I started, my daughter–she will make it even better.

 

 

Advertisements

Dropping Out vs Tuning In

NOTE: This was a post I wrote back in November-ish of 2017, but it felt a little too personal to share. Life has changed in a gazillion ways, mostly for the better. Much of what I worried about fell into place once I gave up the anxiety & tried to DO LESS. When I came across this post in my Notes, I decided it was time to share it. It really does help to surrender our need for control and all the ways we numb ourselves. It also helps to tune into the truest station of your soul. Just be there for a little bit. Do nothing, and be more. Listen. There’s probably a lot to hear. //

Lately I have been writing more and drinking less.

This is quite the opposite of former years, but I just cannot be this tired anymore. Too tired to do the work. Too tired to fight for dharma. Too tired to steer my own ship. Avoiding, avoiding, avoiding.

My youngest will be in kindergarten one year from now. For five years, I’ve had anxiety: when he goes to school full-time, I’ll have to have found my PATH or else get stuck working a job I don’t care about to fill the time and to contribute and to be an upstanding citizen and a good wife and an example. For five years, I’ve tried all kinds of little solutions: garage saling & e-baying, craft-making, mass marketing, part-time working. Anything to be able to feel I’m contributing, never letting my role as a stay-at-home mom feel like enough.

The thing I want to do is write. But it’s so elusive, so big, so important, so nothing anyone around me understands or gives me permission to commit to. Thus, I sneak my writing sessions. I try to squeeze writing in between making snacks, while listening to kids whine at me (like now). I do it for half of nap time, because the other half I must do something that would be tangible to my husband (vacuuming! dishes! laundry!); I wake bleary-eyed and cram in a session after packing my husband’s lunch for work, before the kids wake up for school. I promise myself I’ll write during the three hours of preschool, and I head off to squeeze in a few hours of work instead (my real-world part-time paid-hourly gig) because that’s what I’m paid for, that’s what someone can watch me do and measure me by.

I wondered what comfort I was finding in a glass of wine at the end of the day. I noticed (of course!) the correlation between anxiety and drinking, but just now—during a quick yoga session in which i held my breath and prayed not to be interrupted for fifteen minutes—it came flooding over me: panic that soon both kids will be gone through the afternoon and my role as their mother will demand less of my time–time I quit full-time work over five years ago so that I could spend it both with them and with cultivating my own future to better our family. Panic that my husband will have had enough of being the breadwinner. Panic that I’m not any further along than I was when they were born. Panic that I’ll do something—again!—out of desperation and the need to please the people around me. Panic that I’ll fail. Panic that I’m selfish for wanting to do something that is so solitary and unproven and not guaranteed to be lucrative.

For so long I have tried to juggle so many balls. This has only left me with guilt, so little do i have to show for any of my endeavors. That maxim of motherhood: mom comes last.

Little comments and suggestions sting. “When the kids go back to school, you should do THIS! Or THIS!” I know in my heart what I want to do and am meant to do and have never quite given up the dream of doing even during the driest of spells, and I STILL feel compelled to please and impress people who aren’t even in my daily sphere. I do not want to be the selfish wife who works on her dream while her husband works on not-his-dream 90 hours a week, just to support our family.

Drinking wine assuages the fear of hurting or angering people, the fat hole of lack at the center of my soul, the pain of never feeling enough of a mother or a wife or a person or an artist or an earner, the panic that I will pick the wrong thing to focus on, the nagging sense of time piling up at the bottom of an hourglass, the shame that my biggest dream since I could hold a pencil was to write books and that I am still hiding my true self and my deep longing just because nobody else cares about it the way I do. I have turned into a ceaselessly panicked woman, someone my early-20s, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants, creative as hell counterpart never could have imagined.

Side note: I love to read about writers, and I have read about many who also manage to have families and even other jobs. But it is always the tales of writers who leave it all, abandon ship, take a journey, find themselves in Italy alone and unencumbered, free to take courses at distinguished colleges and colonies in stunning locales, somehow discovering reserves of money along the way, that hit me the hardest—because I have already chosen to throw my anchor down in a way, and I love my family immeasurably, and I do not know how to be the person I want to be when I have already chosen to be this the person everyone else NEEDS me to be.

I don’t drink to what MOST people would call excess. But a few times a week, the wine will come out of the cabinet and I’ll have more than a glass and feel a rush of relief and eventually a total catastrophic hell of guilt: I didn’t mean to do that again; I didn’t mean to leave; I meant to stay. I mean to stay with my feelings, to feel them through, but it’s so much fucking easier to forget and pretend I’ll deal with it at some elusive later date. With wine, I feel sparkly and motivated—“Tomorrow I’ll write my heart out AND do crafts with the kids AND do an hour of yoga AND clean the shower AND cook an amazing dinner AND.” Without distraction, it’s just me. The real thing, the pain, the questioning, the conflicting desires (to please and help others/to please and help myself/to find out how to do both), the grasping faith.

I don’t have it figured out. I might not even have it figured out a year from now, when I feel I MUST. It hurts hard.

A little voice bubbled up during savasana: one day at a time. This time, without a glass of chianti when I’m sad and stuck. Maybe life is ABOUT feeling the guilt, feeling thwarted, feeling jealous, feeling unaccomplished, feeling our way through the shit, feeling gratitude for every sober moment of true relief and beauty in between, feeling okay when we don’t feel okay, feeling anything; just staying awake to feel.

Pick a Door, Any Door

 

There is a fear I have of submitting a manuscript to two places.

 

This fear is unfounded because it is hard enough to be selected by one lit publication, let alone two.

 

My fear is that I will commit to the first acceptance, and that the publication will not be as special as it would have been if I would have gone with the second acceptance. My fear is not knowing how to handle so much goddamn acceptance.

 

Realizing that I do indeed fear simultaneous submissions made me reflect upon the bigger picture, which is that I actually fear success.

 

Big success has been a rare sighting in my life. I am not native to that environment, and have often been (and have been taught to be) uncomfortable, proud, and suspicious when wandering in successful lands not my own. Success seems like a lot of work, a lot of upkeep, a lot of meeting people and making them happy. Success seems like you’ve picked. You’ve walked through a door, and will you be able to walk back out? And if you walk out, will there be another door? And will that door lead to a better room?

 

I once got turned away from a waitressing job because of the results of a personality test: “defiant, resistant to authority.” (Waitressing, in fact, is my personal hell. I tip well; servers are the seventh wonder of my world. I never lasted past a few months in a restaurant.) Perhaps my rebellious personality is to blame for my wishy-washiness. I can’t commit to one thing, let alone someone else’s one thing. Such first world problems, which is why I bury my existential grief in lots of pleasant distractions, like Orange is the New Black and Target.

 

I am a meaning-seeking brat and I feel guilty for it. Lots of people don’t have the luxury of meditating on the meaning of things, or at least not in a comfortable house with enough food in the kitchen and sinks stopped up with clean water to drink and bathe in. (The previous sentence certainly comes out of a person who is fearful of the badness of success.)

 

So, basically, I have many fears. Fear of deciding. Fear of not knowing how to handle or manage achievement. Fear I’m selfish for wanting more than I have, which is enough and often much more than enough. (I certainly am selfish; we all are, I suppose. How can we not be the still point of our own revolving earth, when we are so stubbornly stuck in these skin suits?)

 

I look around at all the writers and artists I admire. They could have hunkered down, hiding their love affairs with words and sounds and paint; they could have chosen careers that would seem safe to their families and friends. But the truth is nothing is safe, and nothing is less safe than letting that pilot light of a dream die. So they kept going. They played shows and edited manuscripts and were defiant and resistant to authority, and now I get to read their books and watch their movies and listen to their songs. And their pilot lights have grown bolder and now catch on mine. The blue flame says, You’re okay, kid.

 

There is a fear I have of submitting to two places: one place being my art, one place being the world. I am afraid to commit to the world because what if the better place is my art? And I am afraid to only submit to my art because what if it doesn’t work and the world will no longer claim me? What if we only have so many open doors, and once we walk through all of them, we’re stuck out in the limbo of the hallway for the rest of our skin suit days? What if we keep getting distracted by the cozy lighting and magnificent view behind somebody else’s door?

 

The message today, loud and ringing in my ears, was Don’t try to figure it out.

 

And this is why, because it is the eleventh month and autumn and a full moon, I have decided to take a month of figuring nothing out. Literally walking through no doors. Just kinda wandering the halls and looking around and not saying, as I am known to say, Ooooh! I want that one! (True story: I said this about my now-husband when I first laid eyes on him.)

 

Also, it’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and it would be SO GREAT to actually be able to play around with my first draft without agonizing over the logistics of ALLLLLL THE THINGS.

 

Success, guilt, ego, fear, ambition: see ya later alligators.  November is NO DOORS. No waffling. No indecision because no decision. Just love and attention and allowing and, maybe if I’m lucky, healing. Just being. And writing. And snuggling. And yoga-ing.

 

I’m letting myself out of this trap. Come with me.

 

 

PS. The image in this post is on an alley wall in Wilmington, North Carolina. I don’t know the name of the artist.

How Not to Run Away

So much about this world hurts.

I was at a doctor’s office for work yesterday where a little boy screamed that he wanted to stand out in the hall. His entire family was with him, & they all yelled at him. He may have been special needs. His mother told him she was going to take him to jail.

And the hurricane. So many people, so many animals, living through the days after all of the stuff of their lives has been sucked under. The family photographs, the hard work, the homes they won’t go home to.

I visited the old state asylum last week. It pulled me into a vortex. Although I felt scared and haunted, I also felt possessed and compelled and devoted to every story of every person who ever endured a life in the bricks of that castle. I bought a brick. I bought a book. I bought a lamp from the sixties. I read from Anne Sexton’s “The Death Notebooks” in the basement of the building. We drank cider in the old laundry facility, ate chips in the former wood shop. I came home unable to work on my book, unable mostly to even breathe without crying.

I eyed the receptionist, indicating the dysfunction in the waiting room. I sent $20 through Together Rising, to Houston. I saged my asylum haul & myself. I stayed away from alcohol, cleaned up my diet after vacation, did yoga even more reverently, meditated in the still of the morning. And all of that felt meaningful, but not even close to enough.

I don’t know if anything I do will ever be enough to blunt the sharp edge of all this terror, sadness, melancholy. But I only want to blunt it, nowadays, if I can look at it squarely. I need to be here, now.

Empathy has been strange for me, a sort of journey really. I’ve always had this quality and only now have a name for it and a sense of understanding about its nature. When I was little I could feel the emotions in a room even when they went untalked about. Perhaps this was brought on by my parents’ arguments, or maybe just a general sensitive, inquisitive writer-nature. But I felt the nuance, the grey area, and it haunted me. Writing was the way to make sense of it or make the nonsense beautiful.

Then came motherhood, a new energy requirement. Then came wine. Too much sleep or too little. Real Housewives. Overexercise. That kinda stuff, the stuff we do to numb ourselves, drop out, relax, forget, forge connections with others over our shared means of escape. As an empathic person, these mechanisms have destroyed parts of me. They are not benign, not for me and probably not for anyone.

We have lives to live. Feelings to feel. Tough shit to face. People to help. Situations to wonder about. Passions to explore. A new generation to guide. Light to shine. And we cannot shine that desperately-necessary light if we are so fucking hell-bent on dimming it just to tolerate the parts of our lives that our intuition is begging us to leave or fix or burn. Rather than immediately throwing up our hands at discomfort & scrambling to escape it, shouldn’t we ask why we feel the deep need to escape in the first place? Why is it so dark in the recesses of our psyche? What if, rather than crouching in a dank corner with our iPad and a stem glass, we just brought a flashlight?

I went to a bar last night. I ordered soda water and lime. I drove home.

I’m not saying I’m a teetotaler. (I’m not.) Or an endlessly charitable person. (I’m not.) Or someone who dives right in & does the work. (I’m not.) Or even a great mother. (I’m trying.)

But I want to see everything. The lovely and the unlovely. The magnetic and the repulsive. The glorious and the tragic. Because life is all of that and all the in-betweens. I want to do things to enjoy those things, or to be enriched by those things, or to contribute to those things, not to run away from other things.

So much about this world hurts. But I have faith that I can bear to look at it.

//

So I wrote a list (I am a very listy person) in my journal of all the things I love to do that love me back. That don’t require booze. That are not distractions or buffers. That are not harmful to anyone, or to me. That feed my dharma, even in the abstract. Things like touring museums / seeing old places / looking at art / walks in the woods or on the shore with a friend or a kid or my husband / real, real, real conversations about meaningful, esoteric, sparkly things / handwriting / going to shows when the crowd is small & supernaturally high-vibe / looooooonnnnngggg yoga practices that force me to be in the present moment so that by the time I’m in corpse pose I truly feel the high of purity / talks (& Balance Pan Asian bowls) with my sister / coffee shops with books inside and rain outside.

What do you love in a pure way? What absorbs your soul? Do it. We all need you to do it.

Because it helps all of us to be here now.

Your Body is a Vehicle on Loan

Reese told me, “Mama, you have a pointy face. Like, your chin is pointy & your nose is kinda pointy & you got bones stickin’ out of your cheeks.” 😩 And then: “When I grow up, will I have a pointy face, too? I hope I look just like you.”

One of the things my own mom NEVER did was criticize her own looks. She admits (now) that she wasn’t always as confident as she made herself out to be, but she sure fooled me. I try to do that for Reese, who sometimes doesn’t think she’s cute or that her belly’s flat enough or that she has good hair (& she isn’t even in 1st grade!). I’ll take my bones stickin’ outta my cheeks & be happy with the Eastern European half of my heritage. I’ll take my imperfect body & make a beautiful life with it because that’s the whole point.

Reese & I talk often about the difference between the body & the spirit. One dies, one doesn’t. We take care of the body so it can serve us & others in this life. So we can experience all the things. So we can give & play & aspire & travel & feel. Not so we can spend all our hours trying to look like someone else.

My sister & I were talking on the phone yesterday about a recent, sad death of someone she knows. We agreed that life is wildly precious. We are all here for something. And none of us will be here 110 years from now. NONE OF US. So all the people you’re worried about pleasing, or about LOOKING a certain way for, won’t even be walking this earth to tell about it.

Plus, real beauty is something ELSE. When you’re around someone who is in love with their own life, you feel it & THEN you see it–& you are changed by it. And rather than envy, you experience the thrill of inspiration. Real beauty brings out real beauty in everyone else.

Love yourself: your humanity, your passions & your flaws. Shine so that all the shiny stuff makes its way into your orbit. It’s all so temporary.

On Reconfiguration 

It happens sometimes. Since I was small, I’ve changed selves over and over. I can tell when I get the rising-up feeling of impending upgrade: my journal no longer feels like home and I shop for a new one, leaving half a Roma Lussa blank as unused day; I believe I need to chop my hair off or else grow it to my hip bones; music sounds different, more joyful or less; I want to create so many so many so many things.
I’m feeling it now. The casting off of what’s useless, like a wine-stained party dress after I’ve slept in it. The longing to make something. The expansiveness of expression. The yearning for art. The despair.
I can tell I’m deep in transformation when the distractions aren’t compelling. Cookbooks! Nutrition podcasts! Hours of exercise! I’m content to sit and read as if I’m going somewhere. Because I am. I’m going back to myself, back in.
Inside there is an unchanging soul-home, radiant with every single possibility. I forget about that place sometimes, that hallway with many doors. It’s easier to rely on the world’s evidence. It’s easier to get lost in gossip and getting skinny and yelling your head off at your kids. It’s easier to believe that all you need to do to change your life is try this product or attend that event. But all those things, those channels for your self-betrayal, are temporary homes for all the hard feelings. The real place they live, in their true and magnificent form, is inside.
I am braving that place, home of hard feelings, home of desire and bravery and longing and boundless effervescent peace. I have found it is the only road that, while slow and scenic and sometimes sad, leads anywhere worth ending up.
Do people change? CAN they? I believe we grow. Our ideas evolve. We become kinder, or less kind. Our external self is important, an experiment, an exploration. But the Beyond within

Is always

Is eternal

Is the map.

Yoga Makes Me Cry

My old thoughts on yoga: This is boring. When do we get up? I’m not burning any calories. My mind is making up a grocery list. Why does anyone want to do this? 

 

My new thoughts on yoga: Zen. Deep peace. Wellsprings of sadness. Lotsa good crying. Abs. Connectedness. 

 

I started practicing yoga because my body was sick of my shit. It just kind of refused, after a while, to lift heavy weights and thump the hell out of its own heart. I had a thyroid scare, lots of sinus issues, anxiety in spades, and insomnia. A lot of people said, Welcome to motherhood! I refuse to accept that becoming a mother–or becoming an anything–deserves such a death sentence. I was tired, I had bruisy purple moats beneath my eyes, I was swimming in a perpetual Jello dreamworld, and my body said, Yoga. 

 

I had done yoga lots of times and just wasn’t impressed. I thought of it as supplemental stretching. I decided to start back at the beginning. I relearned the art of the simple downward dog, chaturanga, forward fold. I lost myself in poses, in movement, in subtlety. When I first did kundalini yoga, I cried through it. That’s when I knew how much I needed a practice. Only, my perfectionist tendencies tried to convince me I couldn’t be a REAL yogi unless I frequented a yoga studio or became a teacher or could get into an unassisted handstand.

 

But that was all ego garbage, and the cure was more yoga.

 

Here’s what I learned:

 

The body stores emotion.

Exercise is a meditation.

Primal movement awakens something ancient in your soul.

Limitations are not lifelong.

You must be okay with going back to the beginning.

It’s a practice. Be okay with not being good, & you’ll always get better. 

Flexibility is gradual, on & off the mat. It is also never the same. One day you’ll find you can rest your forehead on your shins, and the next day you might not find the same stretch. It’s still progress. 

Yoga is metaphorical. You will see your life in it.

The best physical results come from mindful and spiritual practice. It all begins inside. 

The deep release of savasana comes after an intense practice, when I’ve worn out my mind of anxiety. That’s when the magic happens. The best way out is always through. -Robert Frost

 

Yoga helped me revisit stagnant pain and release it. I now realize how much unconscious trash was stored in my tissues. It hurt beyond hurt to relive the feelings. Funny, I didn’t so much connect the tears and emotions to actual concrete memories; every time I stretched in a new way I just allowed the flow of energy. I cried through kundalini meditations and the trick was this: I just didn’t get up. Now, most of my practices are joyful, or at least simply stress-relieving. But there was all this stuff, first, to surrender.

 

When I was doing other sorts of exercise, I was trying to manipulate the way I looked. Ironically, it was when I SOLELY concentrated on how I FELT that my body changed effortlessly–I had heard of this phenomenon but never trusted it fully until I let go and gave up forcing my physical form to do things it wasn’t meant for. It was when I no longer cared to change my outward appearance, that my outward appearance twinned the inner love I felt for myself when I did yoga. Eventually, all that yoga-love transferred to other parts of my life. The mirror offered a more relaxed reflection…and defined obliques. (Also, yoga “not being hard” is a myth. It can be, and usually is, just as challenging as any other form of exercise, depending on what you’re doing and how deep you’re going.)

 

Yoga is the place I go when the world is noisy and I can’t filter out my own knowingness from the endless fray of information. Yoga is for when I can’t find the words, but my body knows the way. Yoga is for when there is pain I can’t name, or joy I can’t access. Yoga reminds me of my flexible spine and spirit, my birthright-supply of prana, the awakening of the Universe in my very own little body. And sometimes I need that gilded cord connecting myself to what’s bigger. Because I’m afraid of the world and the trappings of this digital, turned-on, achievement-obsessed culture. I’m afraid of my not-enoughness. I’m afraid of my sadness. It doesn’t resonate with how I feel deep-deep inside, which is expansive, excited, ripe with possibility. Yoga is for body-love, for oneness, for all the truth we store in our bones–a thing we cannot fully know until we give ourselves to it.

 

Do you love yoga? Did you always? How did you find it, and how does it make you feel?

 

 

Broken vs Broken Open

I am not who I want to be.

And some days, that’s okay. My faults can be amusing. Also I like a project, and my flawed nature gives me lots of those.

And some days, that sucks. Because my time here is finite, and there is so much to be done. Because how do I know that I am where I should be, or could be? How do I measure how much risk is too much, how much too little?

I want answers to every question I could ever ask, NOW. Mostly I consult Google. It’s harder to go within.

I wake up and feel small and I ask myself what I’m doing wrong. My Self usually offers little scraps of wisdom (by which I mean my Self implores me to open up books to random pages or listen to random songs and glean meaning from their pages or lyrics), and so far that has been enough to get me through. But the last few weeks I have encountered this damp, grey space that feels murkier than all the others. This space is not as dark or desperate as when I was stalked, or when I was in Bad Relationships, or when I lived with postpartum depression without naming it. But it’s definitely grayer.

Ben and I drove home from dinner last week (no kids, what!) and I took in all the fireflies lighting up the fields and cried about all that I want to do and how little I know HOW to do it. For whatever reason, the beauty of the late-June night felt unbearably heavy, and all my shortcomings came into sharp focus against the haze of its neon-spackled background. The HOW of things always trips me up, and I want to believe in what’s bigger than my own understanding, but no matter how many times I surrender all the shit, more shit seems to creep in to be surrendered.

I do yoga. I make healthy meals. I write poems. I avoid. I avoid the fact that I am not who I want to be and I don’t have a clue how to become her. I avoid that my children and my husband deserve a more full, wholehearted, happy mother and wife. I avoid that to so many people this life is ENOUGH, and to me, something intangible but necessary feels just out of my reach. Often I think I must be an actual alien, attempting to fit into a world not native to me. Looking for cues from others just makes it worse, because I cannot emulate anyone else and still feel authentic myself, and authenticity is my ride or die standard.

In grey times like this, I scribble things in my journal:

Rest.
Read.
Doing nothing is enough.
Take care of yourself.
Bigger things are coming.

and I have a standoff with the ego who yells, Are you fucking kidding? Who do you think you are to rest? How will you ever get anywhere if you rest? How will you get ahead? How will you accomplish all the things? HOW? HOW WILL BIGGER THINGS COME IF YOU DON’T MAKE THEM?

I am not who I want to be, and some days are grey days, and I don’t have any answers. But I can still be moved by a song and get lost in a book; I can still take the kids to the botanical garden and marvel at the flowers; I can watch fireworks and play with stray kittens; I can cheer because my team won; I can take care of my broken-open heart.

And maybe that’s all we need to do. Maybe we can recognize the subtle difference between broken and broken open. One brings to mind a pile of glass splinters, or a burned-out building, that can never be reassembled; the other is a fruit unhinged: still glorious, still sweet, vulnerable, an offering, seasonal but all the more luscious because it can’t last.

Travel Minus Travel (or, Make Stuff)

For all you creatives hiding in your gingerbread cages, wake up and make your art. We need you.

And here’s a little poem because we teach what we most need to learn:

 

 

TRAVEL MINUS TRAVEL


The choice is to write.



For all the times you didn’t. 

For when you turn out the light and the bulb

still glows for a haunted second.

For the teakettle building to a blow. 

For the life you might have lived

if you’d said yes

or no, 

or if you’d known all the outcomes, 

if you’d swallowed your screams

and had more babies, or less. 


The choice is to write 

because so many nights you

got drunk and listened to sad songs

and thought poetic thoughts, 

which did not suffice 

or serve to close the valve that

shuttles memory into your heart

to be salvaged, 

to be named. 


The choice is to write 

when you’re supposed to cook dinner

and sweep the floor and 

 make money,

 when you’re strapped and empty

and your mouth bleeds apology. 

Forgive me, it says, I was just about to—


Write. 

The choice is unnatural because no one

has offered it. 

No one has applauded your sinister

sentences, your stanzas ablaze. Your 

travel minus travel. 

Oh honey, the people say, 

aren’t you creative. 

Aren’t you deep. 


Write, write, write

because you’re down there anyway–

mending power, reorganizing heartbreak, 

cooking up five courses of unmet desire. 


Write. Or whatever your heart asks for in that moment of longing between awake and sleep, do that.    ❤️Lindsey