An Ode to Roots in a Clay Pipe

The wide world of your dreams. The strange things
that happen in your sleep.
The way your heart beats and heat throbs where it shouldn’t
in daylight.
And the cry: what does it all mean?

In some ways, I remember him like yesterday.
In other ways, I cannot conjure
his face, his smile, mouth, lips, hands, walk…
all the best parts of him.

I think it’s because I sent him away.

It’s nature’s cruel trick—making you forget—as punishment
for the breaking of a heart.
But sometimes I think
it’s my heart that was broken.
It must be, for the procession of dreams that come
when I am most at peace,
and then the days of wondering, the moments
lost in memory afterward.

He is gone. Married, children…all the usual things.
And I have been gone even longer, looking
going after “mine,” whatever “mine” was. Now,
when I scramble for just the right words,
I think it’s because they are stuck, lodged
like roots in a clay pipe,
too entwined from the years
to be pulled from their safe
Life flows by and around, but they are there
all the same.

Many days I have been happy. Many days of contentment
and even bliss.
Many loves have passed leaving their marks, or
stayed as it has now, overflowing.
But none has been
so insistent, so sure
so gone as mine for him.

When he said, “I have always been
in love with you,” the universe righted
itself, a puzzle piece
slid into place
and shook the foundations of all time.

I don’t know what happened when I left
him, bereft.
I wasn’t listening.
I didn’t feel.
If foundations shook, I skipped over the ripples.
I don’t know what happened, but
something did. And so I cry, years later,
after days of wondering and memory:

What does it all mean?

Checking Back In

I just did what you’re not supposed to do as a writer.

I checked out.

For over a month, in fact, which is significant. That’s 30-some days I could have spent in front of my computer putting words on the page, and not a single one flowed out of my brain to any meaningful degree.

Instead, I helped my boyfriend after an unfortunate ski accident mid-March. Then I nursed him back to health after his knee surgery last week. I spent a weekend in Florida with my boyfriend’s parents riding around in golf carts and shamelessly enjoying the weather. I tried like mad to stay on top of a sudden and overwhelming influx of work after a winter of almost nothing coming in. I panicked, wondering if this career I’ve set up for myself just so that I can write is even working. I signed myself up for a class to learn how I can make this career work for myself a little bit better. I worried about taxes and finances and the pitfalls of being self-employed (and listened to my accountant’s fatherly lectures about the pitfalls of being self-employed). I reminded myself to take deep breaths, to work out, to read books, to stay sane…but I wasn’t doing the thing I most needed to do.

In the writing world, they’re all called “excuses.” In my world, it’s called “life.” If Steven Pressfield were here right now, he’d kick my ass. I’d kick my ass, too. But then I’d sit down and take stock and realize that sometimes you just need to pay attention to what’s happening in front of you, to participate in the ebb and flow of the world you inhabit with your loved ones, to honor your emotional wheelings and mental dealings, and to know that there will come a week, a day, an hour when you can, in fact, return to the page.

Which is what I’m doing right now.

This post is not going to win any awards. It’s boring. Everyone has shit happen. Every writer goes through these struggles whether they admit to them or not. Nothing I’m saying is interesting, insightful, or new. The guilt I feel about temporarily abandoning my calling is irrelevant.

The important thing is that I’m saying something right now. When readers go back and look at my archive, they will see that in April of 2015 I broke a streak of hedging. I summoned the energy from somewhere. I did what I’m supposed to do as a writer, which is to eventually check back in and let everything else go.

If you’re not writing right now, make sure you know why. Make sure there is a why. If there isn’t, get to it. If there is, it’s OK.

Soon, it’ll be better.

Soon, it’ll all come back.

Soon, we’ll forget we ever had anything to worry about at all.