Monday, January 30, 2012

Dusting Off Poetry

A few months ago I joined the writing community She Writes. Truth be told, navigating another social media site isn't something that I long to extract out of each day, but the pull of the talent, comaraderie, and connections proved to be too much to turn away from. I check in a couple of times a week to find some beautiful new blogs I've never heard of, and eavesdrop on interesting discussions with writers in different circles (I've joined the Essay Writers and Mother Writers groups). One day I saw a call for poetry on a big-hearted website that I'd never heard of before, Everyday Poets. I decided, What the Hell, may as well dust off some old poetry and send it in. What could it hurt? I'm always trying to open new doors in my brain, shake things up, keep things fresh, and somewhere buried in the mess of all this is a long love affair with poetry.

So far, so good! I've had two poems accepted, the first one which ran yesterday (scroll to January 29th to read "My Neighbor"). My Neighbor was written years ago after my Chinese neighbor Chin Lee took an interest in my new family. She's very old, and still wears a Mao jacket. I can't converse with her in words-- we always mime, and hug, and squeeze each other's shoulders. She has adored Jamie since he was a baby, and used to do this thing which initially surprised me--  she took two fingers and slapped his little face repeatedly, but out of him emerged a big grin every single time. We have this connection of utter fondness, but I couldn't tell you much about her other that what I've observed on the street, in the hallway, and for brief glimpses years back, in her tiny studio apartment.

Chin Lee seemed to collect cans for a living, and visited a food bank weekly. Every time she'd return, she'd knock on my door and hand me boxes of crackers and cans of peaches and applesauce. She'd point to Jamie and make noises and smile and then point to the cans, and she'd aggressively push them into my hands, nodding her head. It was so nice, and I was so overwhelmed with new mom status, that often it would bring me to tears.

I couldn't stop thinking about her kindness, and the way we communicated without sharing the same language, and so who knows when, but a poem began to take shape in my mind and then came out, probably at some odd hour of the night. I've been so busy writing for a living, that I've ceased to entertain those more random thoughts that pull together before inextricably forming into a shape. Dusting off old poems from my hard drive has challenged me to see if I can reserve a small bit of my solitary thinking time to find those stories and word threads once again. I thank the editors at Everyday Poets for reigniting the tiny flame of validation I guess I needed to give myself the permission. I think I'll even carve out a small chunk of time to check out the Emily Dickinson exhibit at the Poets House before it leaves in a week or so.

1 comment:

  1. Rachel, we still have a photograph of you as a young poet in the park, giving your first PAID reading...