Friday, August 1, 2008

Yoga for the Mind

Although months can pass without me writing a poem, inevitably an image or feeling will be too much in some way, forcing me out of logical prose and into poetry.

Last week, haunted by a situation I badly mishandled, I worked on a poem I had begun about it years ago. I used to think that poems sprang to life fully formed, but now I know that a first draft is just a seed that must be tended, nourished, pruned. So I spent time editing the poem, finding solace playing with the sounds, textures, and rhythms of the words. Not only was I able to comfort myself by creating something beautiful, but also I found the poetry work primed my writing mind, allowed me to open up, relax, get warm and receptive.

I often say that writing has saved my life, and I believe that. Writing gives me a place to put stuff I can’t put anywhere else. Today, when I feel overwhelmed by sadness, anger, or grief, I use it in my writing. This might not take the feelings away, but the act of creating works some kind of transforming magic. Maybe it’s like how trash becomes compost that nourishes crops that feed us. Bad feelings, mixed with creativity become food for the soul. I don’t know how it works, I just know it does. But don’t take my word for it--find your creative outlets and use them!


up the hill
I saw you
step to step
light-footed, loose.

I stopped,
trapped between
dread of your stone wall,
and my far-fetched
hope for a breach.

you skipped,
looking back.

The morning mist
swallowed you whole—
your name
lodged in my throat,
an iron veil.