a puddle on the sidewalk shines with a nostalgic glimmer.
the taste of pavement and chalk so hot an egg could fry. the oppressive warmth needs escaping. doors creak, opened by sun-stickied fingers. the air-conditioning inside smells like fresh water and feels like an embrace of ice prickles leaving bodies punctuated with goosebumps.
a hose in the backyard could be a source of hydration or a toy while running barefooted across the grass and clover trying not to step on any bees– the danger only adding to the fun.
those days pinned down by sea salt headaches, leaping from shade to shade, erroneously convinced the best days lay yet ahead.
“Do you think that flowers know that they’re beautiful?” she asks, in the middle of folding laundry. The bleached white towels stand in contrast to the navy blue comforter on the bed. Her folds are crisp, even, perfect. Her eyes flick up from her work, meet mine, and hold there.
I stand stark still, like prey hoping that its predator will move on. Her eyes continue to pierce into my soul. She will not move on.
“Do you think roses know that they symbolize love or that daisies know that we count their petals to steel ourselves from potential heartbreak?”
The words cling to the air, then expand, filling the whole room with their stifling presence. There’s a moment’s pause as we stand there, eyes locked, surrounding by the agony of her inquiries.
Then she breaks her gaze, looks back down at the towels, and starts to fold once more. “Do you think that when flowers are cut from their plants they know that some of them will end up on top of graves, showing the dead that humans still care?”
“I don’t think so,” I mumble in reply, grabbing a nearby towel and starting to fold, albeit much less expertly than her. “I don’t think so.”
It is there for us to seek– that’s what I thought when I pulled into the driveway of your brown home. It is there for us to seek. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I knew we were after the same treasure, whatever it was. It was there for us to seek. I honestly thought we might find it, you and I. But we sought and sought, and it wasn’t there at all. Because it turns out that it was lost from us before we ever got the chance to hunt.
As a child I believed that the continents floated above the ocean, like gigantic earthy boats on the surface of the water. I thought that if you swam far enough out into the ocean, you would eventually arrive at a dramatic drop off where the continental plate ended and you could find the water beneath. More than that, I thought that with a lot of effort, I could be the first human to swim all the way underneath the USA from the east coast to the west coast.
I am older and wiser now. I know that the US is not just floating on water, ready to be swum under. I also know that the tectonic plates are on top of a liquid, just not one that humans can breaststroke through. There is still a magic and an insight to my original understanding, even if it was ultimately wrong.
My world didn’t change dramatically when I learned about the layers of Earth. I didn’t lose my child-like wonder in that moment. If anything, I just had new things to wonder about.
What does the area where it shifts from mantle to crust look like? Will we ever be able to dig down to the core? How do we know about all of these layers if we can’t dissect the earth the way it’s depicted in the graphics that show these layers?
The world is a never-ending stream of questions, of misunderstandings, and of corrections.
I grew up hearing the old wive’s tale that peonies require ants to open their flowers. Until yesterday, I didn’t realize that this was a wive’s tale; I had assumed that it was a scientific fact that peonies require ants to nibble away at their buds in order to bloom. I am constantly being proven wrong. I am constantly learning and growing.
I actually did not mean for the “cream-colored mind” thing to be a metaphor or descriptor for aphantasia. I thought “creamed-colored mind” was a wild and wacky piece of imagery that would be accompanied by other wild and wacky pieces of imagery. As I have gone through this next step of expanded on that initial phrase, however, it has become clear that describing a mind as cream-colored is quite tame compared to some of the other stuff that I have come up with. It does make for a pretty good metaphor, so I am currently keeping it, but toying with the idea of dropping the colored part and replacing it with some other word. The only real issue how to use the term “cream” without it and not make it sound like a euphemism rather than a metaphor. Right now, the phrase will remain as “cream-colored.”
Thinking more about the phrase “cream-colored” and cream itself, I added more to the poem. Thinking about strange and incorrect imagery, I added even more to the poem. This is where it stands right now:
The first and second parts (the lines underlined and in italics respectively) do not yet go together. I especially would like to add something to the last line of the first part because I do not feel like I truly finished my thought there.
Now that I have an utterly creepy and wrong image of a palm tree inserted into the poem, I need to make a decision of whether to make the rest of the poem like that or to circle back to the poem being more like the first part. I don’t know which one I am leaning toward more.
For a while now, I’ve been wanting to write about writing. This is partially because I so often think about my own writing process that I want to express those thoughts outside of my brain and partially because I want to engage other writers in a conversation about the writing process.
The way that I write now is quite organic. When I start a poem, it flows on its own, without any sort of plan. I frequently surprise myself with the finished product because my initial idea, which I thought would be great, was actually quite dull and limited compared to the finalized piece.
There are essentially two ways that I create a poem. The first is that it comes to me, more or less fully formed, and all I do is clean it up a little, maybe add some extra flair, and publish it onto my blog. This process takes maybe an hour on average from conception to publication, but can definitely be much less depending on the length of the poem and the amount of editing that it requires.
The second and much more common way that I write a poem is to start with an idea that I jot down somewhere and come back to sometimes moments or sometimes months later. The idea, which is usually just a line but can be anywhere from a single word to a full stanza, gets slowly added to over time. The actual writing process for this excluding the time between coming up with the idea and starting to work on it is usually a day or two during which I am constantly tweaking the poem, but has taken me up to several months.
In this series, I am going to break down that second process into steps and walk through what is happening in my head as I complete each of those steps. Here is my idea which will be the basis for the poem I will write throughout this series:
It’s not much, and there’s a fair chance that that phrase will not even end up in the final product, but it’s my starting point.
This particular starting point has arisen from a question that I have had for myself: What do I bring to the table? My biggest difference (I think) from all of the other people like myself out there writing poetry is my aphantasia. I cannot “see” or “hear” my writing in my head. Imagery does not come naturally to me because I don’t think about the world in terms of my senses.
And since describing something accurately and describing something wildly incorrectly feel exactly the same to me, I want to create a collection of poems whose imagery go thoroughly off the rails.
How do you normally start working on a poem? How long does it normally take from the idea to the final execution?
The world is wide and wild. When traipsing through the trees, echos of the beyond often filter through the underbrush. The walker feels both known and unknown.
Birds call, squirrels rustle. The canopies above let just enough light trickle down to the ground level where twigs may crack under bootsteps. Humans are often seen in these woods but only along this path. That is just the way things are now.
The walker matters little to their surroundings. This is how things should be. Leave no trace, make no impact except for on yourself. The wild is meant for memories, not imprints.
The walker’s mind is open. They hear the noises. They see the sights. They think the questions:
Who am I? From where did I come? And, most importantly, where would I like to go?