Refinement

Write every day.  That’s the advice every writer gets at some point in her/his life.  Which sounds paradoxically daunting and enticing.

Years ago, when I was in love with writing but fear kept me away, I read books by Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron among others.  From Natalie, author of Writing Down the Bones, came the idea of fearlessness and trying new things, like spontaneous writing booths and timed writing, along the writing journey.  From Julia, author of The Artist’s Way, came the idea of morning pages and ignoring the inner critic.  I tried both off and on–more off than on–for years but fear kept it all from sticking.

I keep discovering life has a way of reinventing itself and dragging me along with it.  Morning pages became evening pages for me and the discovery of the website, 750 Words, birthed the poem below.

 

 

Refinement

 

My head is on fire, a blush of heat

rises from my chest.  I split

my skin, pulling it down and off

the scaffolding of bones.  Air it out,

this center of me.  Unsecret the deepest

parts.  Light cleansing all dark corners

and dim fetid parts.  It is good

in the simplest and best way.   Open

to the elements and self.

 

Room for others

Sometimes I have to remind myself it’s not all about me.  I have to make room in this life for others.  Otherwise, life’s not worth living.

With that  firmly in mind, I’m sharing a most excellent poem, Happiness, from The Poetry Foundation by a favorite poet of mine, the late Jane Kenyon.

Happiness

by Jane Kenyon

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.

It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

Jane Kenyon, “Happiness” from Otherwise: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Source: Poetry (February 1995).