Writing has been a challenge these days.
OK. Well. That's not quite true. Writing has always been a challenge. But one that I'd always welcomed.
But I have not welcomed the challenge recently. Recently, the ideas have been there but the will has not. The will has been straggling behind saying things like, "but I don't wanna" and "you can't make me" and "Shouldn't we just watch another episode of 'Big Love'"? and "Fuck it. Let's watch another episode of 'Big Love."
Pardon my language.
Actually, don't. That was an appropriately used fuck it.
I never meant for my hobby to become something I'd resent and question. It was supposed to be fun. Something I looked forward to and that was only mine.
Only suddenly, it feels like a folly. This needy, self-serving monster that's always tapping my shoulder and asking for another snack. Always asking for a little extra something. A little bit more of my time and energy. It never lays off the guilt trip. Never stops bossing me around.
Writing didn't feel so much like a need for affirmation and approval and reassurance and ego until I set out looking for someone (i.e. an agent) to affirm, approve, reassure and stroke my ego.
It was fun. And when it wasn't fun, it was cleansing. A place to sort out messes and make sense of senseless things (or at least point out the senselessness). And say the things I wanted to say without worrying about whether someone else would ever pay to read it.
And that's the real problem, right there. I suppose that's the problem with all creative endeavors. That's why artists should be hermits rather than brands.
Not that I'm an artist. Or a brand for that matter.
If I were to pick a label from the list it would just be "writer" at its most basic "it-puts-the-words-on-its-page" level ("Silence of the Lambs" anyone? Anyone? Clarice? Anyone?).
So, a week or two ago, it was a long day and I had this idea for a poem. I haven't written a poem in years. In fact, I had to send a note to a friend who is an actual poet to make sure I knew what even qualified as poetry anymore. I've never been one for rhyming in any way other than obnoxiously). Based on her response (pretty much anything that is broken up in stanzas or some such can be a poem these days) I decided my poem qualified as a poem by modern standards (though maybe not by Emily Dickinson's).
Here's my attempt to make up with writing*.
"Cry Poem" (for lack of a better name)
I cry at everything these days.
Everything that’s not my inability to fold the fitted sheets.
Or the diaspora of toys
Always rehoming themselves underfoot.
Or the half-eaten yogurt and uneaten broccoli.
The tiny battles with tiny people.
These things are just the noise of the interstate in my front yard.
The whirling tires I never notice anymore anyway.
Yesterday, my small daughter put on my grandmother’s small gloves.
They fit her, except for the finger tips
Which were empty.
But she’s growing all day
and soon her hands will be my grandmother’s.
And by then she won’t be Cinderella waltzing around the oak tree.
And she won’t notice the magic dust that glitters on sunny days.
And for this I cry and cry.
I'm aware now that the world is immense.
An insignificant universe of ugliness
I never noticed until my small daughters.
The reckless callousness and carelessness we live by
chases me into a fort on the couch
that my small daughters made for me with a blanket
after wiping away my tears.
We should stay here forever, I tell them. Just them and me.
Because I cry at everything.
Save for all the nothing things.
I wonder if I should cap my frayed live wire nerves.
And join a world that’s just fine.
Room temperature tap water on a hot day.
That neurological equilibrium
That feels slightly less like living.
But, I think, this is just motherhood.
Perpetually molting my thickest skin
The remaining layers thinner and thinner. Paper then tissue.
There’s no shield anymore from the little Cinderella
And her smaller sister eating a sundae with such joy,
For a moment, I remember the world before this world.
And this makes my nose red and my eyes glass.
My flickering heart is always on display now.
I dwell in the littlest things now.
Like finding a young bird, floating in the plastic pool
under the oak tree my small daughter waltzed around.
I buried the bird in the part of the yard we don’t ever tend to.
She’s back there under a short cairn
and the purple iris that were my grandmother’s favorite
and the rest of the futility I feel
and some of those tears I cry these days.