It’s been about 25 years since I did my last public poetry reading, but I’m gathering up my courage and doing one tomorrow at the Springfield Library. Believing that you “have to get them at ‘Hello!'” I’m going to start with this one. (I just hope that I can pull it off.)
It never mattered much before how often and where my poetry got published. I wrote because it was a compulsion. When I did send anything out, it was to publications to which I figured I had a good chance of being accepted. Every once in a while I would get a rejection, but it wasn’t very often.
Suddenly it’s mattering to me to know if my poetry is really any good. Am I average? Am I a “B” level poet? I know I”m not an “A.” I’ve never been an “A” in anything. “B+” is about as high as I go, and that goes for my talents at knitting, crochet, sewing, and ballroom dancing.
Now, writing is something else. I’d say I’m about an “A-“. Every job I’ve every had has involved writing, and I’ve always done well at it. I’m a pretty good “persuasive” writer. I used to say that I am able to spin straw into gold; I can take disjointed ideas and turn them into a compelling piece of written material.
So why, now, is it important for me to know if my poetry is considered “good” by others? It doesn’t seem to matter how good other people think I am at anything else I do. It’s all just part of how I spend my time.
But with my poetry, it’s different. For some reason, now, at my advanced age, I need to know.
So I’m taking a chance and sending poems out to more discriminating poetry publications. I need to know.
And if they are rejected? It shouldn’t matter, right?
This year, the family planted an almond tree and a cherry tree. The fruit trees planted in previous years are becoming laden with young edibles. One tomato has shown up, and the bird house is filled to capacity. A little bit of paradise, here.
occupied bird house.
We don’t have an extra big yard; it’s just a regular house lot. But the family makes the most of it. Such is suburban farming.
Except for a few mounted in the exhibit room, butterflies fly free at the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Museum, where I assisted with the nursing home folks who went on the field trip today.
The thousands of butterflies are free to land wherever they want, and this one took a real liking to one woman’s hair. (Must have been her shampoo.) None of them chose to land on me. (Must have been my hair spray.)
The Conservatory is pretty much an indoor recreation of a tropical environment, with baby quail running around through the ground cover and an occasional bird shrieking from some sheltered niche. Of course, I tried to take some photos, which, also, of course, can’t come close to the ones in the web site’s online gallery. But I did get a shot that they don’t seem to have: a pair of butterflies mating.
They were in that position when we got there, and they were still in that position when we left.
(Better they than I.)
Stole his from Kay’s Thinking Cap. It’s too much fun not to share.
It’s Father’s Day tomorrow, and I’ll think about him then.
But today I’m thinking about my mother because we find ourselves in East Sandwich MA driving along roads that we drove with her a dozen or so years ago when I took her on the last vacation she had.
When I rented the house we are now in (for this week), I had forgotten that we all had been out this way before, before dementia took my mother away into her own world.
It was my son-in-law who recognized familiar sites — the place we had gone several times for ice cream; the miniature golf course where my mom actually did very well for a little old woman in her 80s. And then I remembered, too — taking her into Hyannis to shop, taking her on a nature walk through some strange grove of bamboo that also served as exhibit space for even stranger sculptures. She had time to sit and laugh with her granddaughter and grandson-in-law. It was a good time for all of us.
Someday, after I’m gone, I hope that they will smile when they remember this vacation with me — despite my limping along with a bout of vacation-annoying sciatica.
I am thinking of my mom today and wishing that I had been able to giver her more chances to enjoy her family while she was still able to enjoy them.
I am looking forward to this week of relaxation and adventure with my family. (Even the drive out with several stops to ease my grandson’s car-ride queasiness was part of the adventure.) There are plans to go to Plymouth and make other day trips around the Cape. Chances are, however, unless my sacroiliac calms down, I might just sit on the deck and read.
After all, I’m on vacation, and Cape Cod Bay is just the perfect place to be.
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
— Marcel Proust
I am enjoying the blessings of white picket fences, pink clematis, and red rugusa roses — and those who house and care for them. And me.
I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night.
In between, I occupy myself as best I can.
— Cary Grant
On the other hand,
Every passing minute
is another chance
to turn it all around.
— From Vanilla Sky
When I took geometry in high school, I never thought I’d have any reason to remember the Pythagorean Therum or Algebra. More than 50 years later, I’m learning to do modular knitting and I have to figure out how many stitches to pick up along the hypotenuse of a knitted right triangle. But these days, even if I don’t know, Google knows.
This is the year for me to really start paying attention.
Creativity emerges from paying attention. Problem solving requires paying attention. Connections thrive on paying attention.
Until the middle of November, my mother’s fatal dementia, by necessity, was the focus of my attention for the past decade. It feels strange, in a way, not to feel that pull any more — to have no excuse for not paying attention.
Writing well depends upon paying attention.
And so I begin here, tomorrow, participating in a month long project, A River of Stones.
A small stone is a polished moment of paying proper attention, and the challenge of the project is to write a small stone every day.
I will start tomorrow. One small stone. And, stone upon stone, I will try to set a solid path out of the stress and sorrow of the last decade and into a more focused future.
I was starting to feel guilty about not posting frequently enough on this blog. Then I read what my son wrote on Twitter about his blog:
I write for me, and then stop writing for me. Anyone who reads in the meantime? Cool.
It is the season’s leavings
that root me to this spaded place —
bent twigs, loosed leaves,
the year’s used ends and endings
storm-swept in sheltered corners.
Barren fields and desert reaches
free the weed to tumble in its time,
but the clutter of the season’s leavings
frees the roots from hidden seeds
of other spaces, other times.