I wrote a poem one day, jangled verse, angry verse, as if I could not survive without putting words down to separate who I was, who I might become from what seemed inevitable.
That first poem changed my life. My sister was pregnant at sixteen. My mother worked at a bar. My stepfather had turned violent.
My aunt came to visit that summer I was seventeen, she who painted pictures, great sweeping abstracts. I knew nothing of these, but she read my poem. A week later, she invited me to California, to go to a community college. I left and never looked back.
This poem began all my writing. Now I remember only the last stanza. Here it is.
There's no such thing as a future,
whether good or bad.
There's only the past taunting you
with things you've never had.
Hundreds of poems later, I see now that first poem was pretty terrible. As was my life then. Today I write fiction, an occasional poem, and quilt. My husband and my daughter (now son-in-law and granddaughter) enrich every day.
Poetry has always been my private side, difficult to read aloud, even more difficult to share. But there's still something in a graceful line of words, observation, reflection, a stillness or awareness that connects me back to joy.
I wrote a poem one day
so many years ago:
a great door opening
to a community of voices,
a mermaid singing on the edge of the sea,
a lover's voice reciting,
a baby's cry, fretful, then quiet;
a painter's brush rich with blue paint,
a kaleidoscope of words,
each one irrevocably bringing change.
Read what others have written for OctPoWriMo here.