Letter from My 48th Year (Jan 7)
I am having one of those days where I’m overtired (emotionally, physically, socially) yet at the same time overstimulated, resulting in a buzzing kind of numbness. I’m also hungry but heating up the leftovers from last night’s lovely and love-full birthday dinner feels too difficult, as if there is a pit of quicksand to slog through on the short path from the table where I am working to the fridge, and then another pit of quicksand—and ROUSes— to fight through on the short path from the fridge to the oven.
I realize this is a ridiculous problem. I also realize that it is ridiculous to think that I could have three cocktails the evening of an emotionally charged day and then spring out of bed the next morning ready to do battle with poetry and laundry and tasks like feeding myself. (I am not always willing to be aware of the tricky difference between optimism and what I know from personal history will actually happen.)
Today would be a good day to be a cat, curling up in pools of warmth and light with no other care in the world than to find my next puddle of warmth and light to drowse in. It’s occurring to me now that after two days of no to little heat and spotty hot water that I have been blasting the heaters all day and so perhaps I’m actually drunk on warm air.
Though it seems I cannot manage to successfully feed myself this afternoon nor snap fully awake since falling out of my afternoon nap, I am looking through a private poetry blog I participate in to find poems by my friend Pepper. We are trying to collect all of his work for his family as he was notorious for not sending his work out, though the poems were so often effortlessly beautiful and moving, the types of poem that made you envy his capacity to really see. I cannot remember when he first joined our group, so I’ve gone back to the very beginning—2013—clicking on each poem and scrolling quickly down to see who’s written it. (I feel like I’m at the AWP writers conference, one of those people who brazenly reads one’s name badge, their stare asking, Well, are you somebody?, before deciding No, dismissing one, and moving on to the next possible someone.)
I haven’t yet found any of Pepper’s poems, but I have found several I’d forgotten I’d written about my father. I think of my series of poems about him beginning during the last few months he was alive. But it turns out he’d started haunting me long before then, that I’d already started trying to figure out if indeed there were any gossamer fragments of any type of love connecting us.
I’ll leave you with the draft of one of those poems:
Hooray for the people we keep:
this spring rain weeps a map
of empty places where fingers
weren’t long or strong enough
to hold on. Is this what happens
to all women born not of other women
but of men and other women born of men?
Do we dress in absence year-long?
Faces, artificially pinked, upturn
toward a rumor of sun as if
that false god knows who will ripen
into someone who stays as if
there is a difference between weed
and fruit, as if each is more than
a different type of absence we are reaping.