Haven’t been here for a while. I’ve been busy writing poems. April is National Poetry Month and challenges all who write, to create a poem a day (known as the PAD Challenge). It isn’t an easy task, but I attempt it each year because poetry is where I began my affair with words. I call it that because, for me, it has all the tell-tale aspects and effects of just such a relationship.
For instance, there’s this guy. He’s been around most, if not all your life, and suddenly one day, you really see him. He does something, says something, maybe looks across a room, and you know that you know, he’s seen something deep inside of you, and you are gone, perhaps knowing that you might follow him anywhere. Aware, for the first time, that you will do whatever it takes to stay close to him, always. You want to keep it a secret, someone else knowing will somehow spoil it. But, someone does realize and rather than deny it, which would definitely tarnish it in some fashion, you admit to your feelings. And so it begins, this affair.
That’s what happened to me, and I was not young. Not a callow, teen-aged star-gazing, neophyte, by any means. Late thirties, close to twenty years of marriage already behind me, a mother of four, responsibilities up the wazoo, and suddenly there was this world of words (named Poetry) staring at me across a room, letting me know that I alone, had something it needed, and I was gone, lost inside a world of promising, glorious sunrises and soft, blue-indigo, twilight shadows.
I bought a note-book, and for the next few days, tried to write out my stammering, incoherent feelings. Language was suddenly brand new, filled with strange new meanings, and tools I was suddenly aware, that I had never truly used and didn’t understand. Only knew one thing: I could learn, and would. As luck would have it, one of those first attempted stammerings, won first place in a Poetry Contest. My cover was blown, everyone knew, I was out in the open. Me and Poetry were going steady. This affair was now official.
But, Poetry has an older brother named Prose. Just as stunningly attractive, solidly built, with the body of a true Warrior, honed through time and experience to a sharp razor’s edge. Is it possible to love two, so similar in some ways, yet forever distinctly different? Each trained and disciplined by very different rules? My answer? Yes. Especially if you come to them late, and filled with an insatiable hunger for all things wordy.
So, here I am, back on this other page, engaged in this ongoing affair with these two very different brothers. Polite society raises it brows, turns an askance eye to my seemingly uncontrolled gluttony. Do I care? Yes, and No.
“There are rules,” they whisper, behind hands raised in shock and denial.
“It is forbidden.” But, when I ask , “Why?”, what I get is muttered confusion, hints and dire predictions.
“Everyone knows, if you try to do both, one or both will suffer. Ultimately, you will lose.”
“Lose what?” I have to ask.
“Your audience, of course. They want excellence, won’t take less. And if you are trying to do both, that excellence will be lost.”
“Excellence?” And that’s when I begin to laugh, out loud, and uncontrollably. “Listen up,” I say with a wide grin, “I am a North Wisconsin Hillbilly. We don’t know excellence, never have, never will. Rebellion is what we know. It is what we do, what we live. I started so late, that I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that I will never learn, or know it all. And that is better than good. Life is about finding that thing that enriches you and the world in which you live. I am doing just that and hope to continue doing it until my last and final breath. Can only dream that some other hillbilly will come along, after I’m gone, and continue doing the same. I, and these two brothers, are having wonderful and glorious fun, exploring and learning together. Can you say the same?”