Because here’s the thing–after 2019, I hated any gift I’d ever shown for eloquence. For a time, I consciously tried to strip my speech of grace and flourishes, saying as little as possible in conversation and using the plainest words I could find. The fall prior, 2018, I had counted the poems I’d written, a solid decade of effort, and realized I had enough for a slim book. I was thrilled. The act of writing had long given me a natural high, a kind of spiritual orgasmic state of energy and bliss that, to paraphrase Bjork, almost never let me down. When writing went well, words seemed to solve the very mysteries of life. Then, my brain went haywire and life fell apart. In the midst of agonies I don’t know how to describe, I wrote a hallucinatory email message that–because of the power of my words, still available to me as other faculties foundered–sounded purposeful and intended. The months that followed were months of shame and grief. My parents, recipients of said message, perceived immediately that something was wrong and never once reproached me, though from March to September, I had no explanation. I don’t know how I could have survived it if I’d hurt them. It took me a while to feel deserving of such unconditional love, and it’s taken me even longer to dare to care about my writing again. I feel similar transport doing therapy, and that’s such a steady supply of joy, I’ve barely missed the other source. But I took my manuscript out today, because a friend expressed interest, and remembered a comment once made to me: “Your poems make me want to kiss someone.” I can’t think of a better, more sustaining compliment.
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