Writing sometimes feels like dancing. Turning and twisting until you learn the steps, and just when you get comfortable in the routine you decide to do a few freestyle moves. As it turns out, I tend to write in two different poetic voices. It’s an interesting feat, something I’d like to compare to taking turns on the floor with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Or maybe doing a classic little waltz with William Blake himself. I wouldn’t say I’m as graceful as him, but I can follow the pattern well enough because I too find equal amounts of romance and horror in this human existence. Now, I don’t necessarily mean romance and horror in the limited ideals of steamy love affairs or ghostly scenes (though, those don’t fall outside of my literary interests either). I just mean, that there is a myriad of extremes in this life. An abundance of emotions to be felt and thoughts to be said, and the only way I have ever seemed to process and capture the variety of it all is through my poems.
One of my favorite words to exist is “bittersweet.” I appreciate the acknowledgment of both the good and the bad. I love the idea that these two opposing forces can exist not only at the same time but together. Attached to each other. As one entity. With that being said, I would like to start our examination with a focus on the first half of this word. My poem, “In Bloom” is one that might be considered to have lines of bitter, or horror, or at best, experience.
Want to know the truth? The end of the world is like any other day.
They make you think it’ll be some extraordinary event.
The sky falling on your head. Or the ground opening up to swallow you in one gulp.
Some Big Bang of mass destruction.
The truth is the world has been ending for a long time.
Ruination grows slowly.
Then Spring comes and the Apocalypse blooms.
You watch it happen from the comfort of your couch.
The truth is the end of the world and my coming of age were simultaneous events.
I wish I could say I fell apart with everyone else. I wish I could say that the end of the world
touched me in a place that not even the fingers of my lover could reach.
I’m also grateful it didn’t. I’ve accepted that it’ll never be as it once was.
Because the truth is when the world starts to change you learn to change with it.
If you couldn’t guess, this is a poem about the very recent pandemic. Dear Mr. Hyde really took the lead on this one with the apocalyptic commentary. The two lines smack dab in the middle of the poem are actually the first two lines my mind conjured up. “Ruination grows slowly./Then Spring comes and the Apocalypse blooms.” These lines fully captured how I felt about the state of the world, and this was not solely in consequence of the pandemic itself. The world was slapped with unavoidable tragedy on multiple levels. How terrible it was for the entirety of human existence to find that some things are simply beyond our control. But during this turn of irreversible events came a solemn realization: There is power in accepting your fate. So I did. I wrote this poem to mourn, heal, accept, and finally let go of everything I had gained and lost during the catastrophic blooming season.
Now, all things considered, sweetness can be found in many places too. Though, not all of them physical. Sometimes, the light is hidden in memory. My poem “Going Home” is a testament to that notion.
Your soft hands protecting my small ones
Your musical laughter whenever you’d say
I smell like the sun
I don’t know what the sun smells like
because it was always your sweet scent
of flowers and apples that carried me
down the tree-lined streets
And through the patches of light
While the dead leaves crunched under our feet
and left me with the secret hope
that we would walk forever
Just you and me
If my previous poem was an account of the end, then this poem is the reason for any attempt at resurrection. You see, I have a fascination of liminal spaces; My favorite moments tend to exist quietly and in between. I think it’s because of this time in my girlhood when my mother would have to walk me home from school because I was too young and soft to be left alone in the world. You could say this poem was Dr. Jekyll’s effort to swoon me on the floor. Or we can admit it’s just me, trying to retain the good and put it somewhere a little more permanent, but all I could find was the page.
So there’s a bit of my psyche. Those are some of the thoughts and emotions that fuel both the innocent and the wiser voices that end up on my pages. As far as a “writing process” goes, I can’t say I have one. The truth is I just write what I can, when I can. When I have time. When I feel inspired. Or when I simply force myself to live up to the title of “writer” which I seem to have coined after all these years of obsessing over words.
I will end this small essay with a confession. I want to confess to you my greatest fear. My greatest fear in life is not death or getting older, or even the unknown. My greatest fear is only not having lived enough. I want to know that I have lived a life worth living. I write to know that I have. I write to create evidence that I am overcoming my fear. Every moment, whether it is bathed in sunlight or watered down by apocalyptic rain, is a moment worth remembering. Of course, it could be argued that some things are only useful in the physicality of the experience. What is the point in writing it all down? To this I say: I don’t know. But then again, what is the point in the world ending, when Spring will still bloom?