Open Letter to Patti Smith, Day 16 (some things I should write about)
Here’s what I should be writing about: how a friend’s insistence that I could not take care of a baby was an unexpected wound upon wound, quick as a papercut, deep as being gut-shot, hidden as an aneurysm. I also should write about how sometimes I allow my mother to seduce me, and how other times I cannot bear to let her “I love yous” and her insinuation that there is something deep and fertile between us touch me even at a distance. I should write too about how lonely I was last night because it was Friday and I imagined every one was out and in love though if it had been a regular Friday night and not one when I was home sick, and I had come in late from work, I would have been so grateful to be home, to be alone, to keep company with no one but the blue couch and the television. Then too for writing there’s how scared I was on Thursday morning as I felt the most intense dizziness I’d ever felt and the horror at having to be taken care of and at making everyone worry. I could write about how I’m scared there won’t be enough poems to make the new book I see in my head, and that if I do write enough poems to make the new book I see in my head, if I read them out loud, there are some secrets that will become told forever. I could write that a cost of keeping myself levered open is that the foul-mouthed editor who lives in my head grows more insistent that I’m doing it wrong, “it” being living and being a friend and being myself. Or I could write about those people I support with my likes or my comments who never read my blog posts or even my status updates in return or send an encouraging word and how petty it makes me feel that I notice that and how petty it makes me feel to think of not supporting them because of that. I could tell you about the woman who made me miserable in grad school because I wasn’t the type of black woman she wanted me to be and she even questioned one day in class to our professor, in front of the whole workshop of poets, why what I wrote was even poetry and still I continued to give encouraging feedback on her work because it was beautiful. I could also confess that there have been people I haven’t wanted to be friends with because I didn’t think the quality of their work was very high and I didn’t know how to lie very well, or rather I should say I didn’t know how to be kind very well. And when I remember myself as I was 25 years ago, I remember myself unkindly and I remember myself being unkind even though someone who knew me then insists that wasn’t how it was at all. I could write about how I see myself as never pushing through the hard things even though the evidence that I do at least try is all around me but yet I think I don’t try enough because I worry I’m too much like my father. And I worry I’m too much like my mother and not the parts of her that are good at flirting with men (which I don’t have at all) or charming people into doing her favors (I always use bribes not any charm I might possibly have) but the part where you only matter to me if you are useful, or our world views can buttonhook into each other without any snagging or pulling. And I should confess too that when I go to the library I get too many books even though there are books I own that I haven’t read yet and I will go to the used books store in my neighborhood and buy more books because I feel responsible for keeping it alive, and then I’ll go to the library and again get too many books and of course there’s the thing where I like dangerous men, though I don’t actually know any dangerous men, and anyway, by now you’ve figured out that I think all men are dangerous.