We all write poetry; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words. John Fowles
Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. Carl Sandburg
No matter what we may be doing at a given moment, we must not forget it has a bearing upon our ever-lasting self which is poetry. Basho
“I am filled with a poem.” I’ve been saying these words to myself all week. “I am filled with a poem.” And it seems true to me, that I am filled with a poem, a poem ready to burst out of my depths and into some tangible form, perhaps into an opera or a ballet or a stand-up comedy act, into something that hasn’t quite found its footing yet. And is it enough to let it be, this feeling of poetry singing its way through our inner landscape? I think it is. And that is what I am doing, savoring it, the poem that seems too big for words. And yet, the words come. Yesterday, in the growing light of April, at mid-day, I skate-skied on fresh-groomed tracks up and down hills through fairy-tale woods. The snow floated down gently at times, then pelted me sideways as the wind picked up, then suddenly stopped as the sun peeked through. It was all there in that afternoon ski, the crisp cold of winter with all that new snow, and the puddles of spring pooling among the trees and frozen over again with the recent dip in temperature. The crows flew from tree to tree, catching the gusts of wind, and the squirrels raced across the trail and I think we were all filled with a poem.
And this is what came to me as I skied along — a memory of a time that a poem grew inside of me. It was springtime, not the early spring of snow and mud and trails still groomed for skiing; it was later, maybe May, and dandelions were bursting though the cracks in the sidewalk, and the memory seems bright and sharp like the sun that was shining down on me that afternoon as I waited for my big sister to make her way home from school. And that tells me that I must have been four, or five — not much older than my nearly four-year-old grandson– because I wasn’t walking home with my sister; I was outside our home ready to greet her when she made her way down the street. And I’m not sure what I was doing before the snapshot of crystal clear memory. Perhaps I was scooched down in my secret hideaway beneath the lilac tree in our backyard or mountain-climbing up the boulder that sat across the tiny deadend road from our house. Perhaps I could sense that this was the blossoming season and life was filled with new possibility — perhaps that was why I was feeling so good. Because that is what I remember, the good feeling. I’m not sure if I said it in words that day, but I know I felt it, that I was filled with a poem.
And that is when a woman made her way up Beacon Street, the street on the other side of our house, the one with the sidewalk and the dandelions, a woman I didn’t know. I think she was pushing a baby carriage; that part isn’t as clear. And I think it was me, filled with the bigness of my poem, that began the conversation. And though I don’t remember what we talked about, I do remember we spoke to each other for some time, and that it didn’t feel condescending or like idle chatter, at least not to me. We were two people on a gorgeous spring day connecting, big poem to big poem. And the conversation left me buoyant, skipping and dancing down the street, and I remember this buoyant feeling and this woman and this day, over fifty years later. And yesterday, skate-skiing along, riding the waves of that same buoyancy, the memory rose up and presented itself center stage.
I believe it is in us all, a poem ready to be fed. Tuesday, before the temperature plummeted and the snow coated our world white again, we, in the north woods, had a glimpse of the blossoming season that indeed will be with us soon. The waters of Lake Superior sparkled and the sun warmed my skin and I sat in the grass by the sandstone shore and let it all soak in, the warmth, the breeze, the blue sky, and then I couldn’t sit still a moment longer, and I began a giddy walk-skip around the outer path of our city park isle. And there they were, filled to the brim in their brilliant-colored hammocks draped among the trees, these college kids sprawled out and utterly relaxed, napping and reading and playing guitars, at least a dozen of them, sopping in the magic of that unseasonably warm afternoon. When you are filled to the brim, when you are buoyant inside, when the day is sunny and warm and you are walk-skipping around an island or swinging in a hammock by a great lake, or when it is snowy in April and the trees are draped in white and the trail is perfectly-groomed, it is easy to say it, “I am filled with a poem.”
But isn’t there something in every day, no matter the outside weather, something that can feed us and fill us up and set our spirits soaring? It is an inside job, to be filled with a poem, a poem that feels buoyant and uplifting. It is an inside job to claim it, the poem blossoming in our depths, to claim also that our lives, the ones that we are living day to day, that they are poetry, more potent than anything we can capture on a page. And when we embrace it, this feeling that is beyond words, this feeling that swells in our hearts and souls, when we allow ourselves to relax into it, the way the college kids relax into their hammocks on the shore of the greatest of lakes, when we breathe deeply and feel the goodness of it all, it is easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger and create a connection that lasts a lifetime.
Happy spring!!! Happy Poetry Month!!!