Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prosaic, Poetic

Poetry has been eluding me lately, or I have been eluding it--avoiding its stare, not answering when it calls my name in the dark.

Sometimes I don't feel like talking to you, Poetry, my friend. You have known me so long that I am afraid sometimes of what you will say to the person I have become. Or is it, more charitably, that I assume you know already everything in my heart?

But I need the illumination of your images--I type this in the dark, eyes shut. See, even now I will not meet your gaze. I am bent over, forehead on my feet. I have folded myself like one of those paper cranes I have been making since I was four years old--angles, creases, flattened and reshaped. Like them, I am a simple square, if you unfold me--creased, maybe, or crinkled, and patterned with colors and designs. Still, unfold me and smooth me out and I am just this single layer of paper. A square is clean and crisp, but meaninglesss.

That is what I fear, when I avoid you, Poetry. I am afraid you'll unfold me and reveal that my inside is a void. What if, inside, I am just hollow?

I don't want to be empty.

When I trust you and listen to you--when I sit down and sip tea with you in the comfortable chairs that offer to swallow me in their huge embrace (instead of turning away from your voice to run through the corridors of other people's stories)--when I hand over the keys and the combinations to all my locks, and you open the doors and cupboards and boxes and drawers, one by one, and shine your lamp inside them: they aren't really empty. Even if they were, you would fill them with good things, Poetry, my generous friend. You are light, not darkness. I forget sometimes. Forgive me.

I will come sit at your feet once more, and listen to your stories. You will sing me the songs of my heart, the music you hear through your stethoscope. You'll show me the snapshots of my journeys, pictures you took when I thought you had abandoned me, now arranged and preserved, ephemeral moments captured for my perusal. You'll feed me a hot meal, with plenty of vegetables, and make sure I'm satisfied. Yes, you are my friend, I do know this.

I'll come visit soon, I promise. Wait for me. Answer the door when I finally knock. And for the moment, remind me of the directions to your house.

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