For April—National Poetry Month—I’m trying my darnedest to write a poem each day. I don’t plan to post them here; the poor darlings will be too newborn to be out in the world any time soon. I did, however, want to share the draft I wrote today as it was a direct result of the “ecstasy of looking” I wrote about here. (And it’s also part of the Love Poems series I’ve been working on since last November. At least, I think it is…)
Poem Left in His Pocket on a Page Torn from a Book
I admit you still feel strange to me
in the most ordinary of ways:
how, for example, you look at me
as if I were enough or
how when I put the white tulips you sent
on the kitchen window sill and wait
for the sturdy light of morning
each yellow heart glows
and still, I do not weep.
For several days now I’ve been in an ecstasy of looking. It started, surprisingly, not when I came home with three bunches of tulips thanks to a sale at Whole Foods, but when the double bunch of lush purple ones started to wither after doing that spectacular exploding in all directions thing tulips like to do. Normally I would have just chucked the whole lot in the bin, but since I’m home all day right now, I took a break from work and separated the ones that were still vibrant into smaller bunches around my apartment.
One ended up in a vase on the window ledge in my bathroom next to a pink Eiffel Tower and a giant glass jar that I use to store my soap. (It was once upon a time filled with hundreds of jelly beans, but I digress.) It drooped against the wall to its right, and I was struck by a sense of loneliness and melancholy. A few days later, it had straightened up but the individual petals had started to relax into a series of waves, and I thought, “ah, windswept.” It also, for some reason, reminded me of an older woman with a head of gorgeous silver hair.
I’d of course known people to go into raptures over flowers—May Sarton and Georgia O’Keeffee to name a couple—but I’d never experienced that particular rush of feeling myself. I was struck most by how, as the flowers wilted, they became even more sculptural, a little like bone, a little like wind. I was also struck by the fact that as I took the time to really look at each bloom, I felt something. I can’t quite articulate what that something was—a moment of pure aesthetic joy, perhaps?—but it was beyond merely noticing that they were pretty. Holding the gaze with each blossom resonated in some complex way I don’t understand. Perhaps the only way to put it is that it felt a little bit like holding a poem in my eyes without intercession of pen and paper.
I also felt the frustration of not being able to capture exactly what I was feeling as I took Instagram after Instagram each time a blossom made me catch my breath. But isn’t that always the frustration of the artistic impulse—that you can come close, oh so close to whatever has provoked you to write, paint, dance, but the experience itself always remains ever so slightly out of reach?
The tulips are gone, but a bunch of lovely ranunculus has arrived to take their place. I laughed out loud as I noticed that the only one that had so far opened up into a brash blossom had somehow craned its neck to separate itself from the pack in a most determined manner. Thank you, oh ranunculus, for that moment of pure, unmarred joy.
In the seven days since I last posted, I’ve thought about a lot of things to write. Ultimately, however, I couldn’t get myself to write them out loud because a lot of what I was thinking felt too much like crying over milk that was spilled decades and decades ago. So I decided to just keep silent in the blog, though I have continued to do my morning journaling every day.
I don’t know what to write now—I’m so tired from an unexpectedly long day that included travelling to downtown DC for the first time since surgery—but I feel like if I don’t write something today, then it’ll be December and I’ll have wretchedly few days checked off on the calendar on which I’m tracking the days I’ve blogged.
I think maybe I’ll just leave you with this photo I took yesterday. What I love about it is how much personality the tulip has. I haven’t quite made up my mind if it’s leaning its head on the wall’s shoulder cause it’s lonely or tired or melancholy. Or maybe it just feels like flirting with the wall. Whatever it’s feeling, this image reads to me like everything I’d want to say in a poem if only this weren’t one of those days when words simply cost too much.