Drollerie Press Blog Tour

Our theme this month is “poetry” in honor of poetry month.  The master list of participants can be found at Drollerie Press.  Please welcome Cindy Lynn Speer, the author of the lovely The Chocolatier’s Wife!  My post can be found on her blog here.

I have a strong connection to poetry…I was drawn to it early, partly because it was something that felt accomplishable.  I could finish a poem in one sitting if I felt the words, and it was an outlet for all those jumbled, impossible emotions we feel in our teens, a place to say things about the things I’d seen, to remind me of what I’d felt, of what I’d experienced.   Sometimes you can’t use an image in a story, but it still means something…the abandoned warehouses, the fallen in barns, the boy on the bus with the smile that means a thousand things.
 
For years, I’d be walking around, or doing work, or whatever, and I’d hear a line in my head, over and over again, like a song.  I’d write it down, and sometimes, the lines would follow, spinning like a web.
 
I used to read my poems out loud, to audiences.  Sometimes people would ask for copies.   One of the most popular was this, inspired by a line from Dante.
 
Nor in memory held

It is dark and cold.
I sit on the heating vent in my kitchen floor,
thinking only of
the smoothness of the glass I hold,
the hum of the refrigerator…
mundane, I know,
cut to the chase.
You see, nothing major happened today,
I didn’t have a friend die of AIDS,
or wreck my car.
But the feeling I have
is incomprehensible…
It’s the feeling you get when your husband’s
no longer your best friend,
or you realized that the girl you thought
was your sister in college wasn’t ever going to call,
or write, or even remember you.
Nor in memory held,
you sit in the darkness and feel sorry for yourself,
happy for the warm air across belly and breasts,
for the dusky bitter taste of orange juice,
and the frost defracting into jewels on the window.
That is why I cry,
for beauty not…
Nor in memory held.

 
 
This was me, just before graduating from college…before I was married, before I found out that there may come a time when your “Husband is your husband’s no longer your best friend, or you realized that the girl you thought was your sister in college wasn’t ever going to call…”  It turned out to be prophetic.  I divorced my college sweetheart…and I found that I no longer heard the words in my head.  No lines came to me like a refrain, and any images that came seemed to fit better in a short story or novel…they had their own music to them, but not that kind.  It was as if the part of my mind that wrote poetry had died.  You’d think not, since poetry had been such a huge emotional outlet for me, but maybe it’d gotten overwhelmed, blown a circuit, or just decided to go on strike.
 
Sometimes, I try again.  I found a snippet of a poem I started, long time ago, sitting in the back of a soiree, waiting my turn to read.  It was about the time I started getting interested in fairy tales again, and so I decided, later, to finish it.   I don’t know if I will ever be able to call myself a poetess again, but maybe, sometime, to paraphrase a line from Anne Sexton, the music will swim back to me.
 
The Piper’s Children
 
“…and they were never seen again.” – from The Pied Piper
 
The woods are dark and deep,
but the blackness,
and bleakness,
bother me no longer.
It did when I first entered them.
I was seven and the music,
that lovely sound,
gentle and coaxing like a warm river,
lead us all.
We were leaves,
spinning and turning on that magic current…
But without warning
the music was gone,
leaving us empty,
abandoned and hopeless.
I found a wide stream
and I waited
for the music to come again.
If I wait long enough,
maybe he’ll relent,
lift his pipe to his lips
and that beautiful tide will return.
It will rise and flow
and take us home.