What is the story behind the poem?
she asks. Write that.
When I write about blue skies,
shall I tell you that they saved my life,
kept me looking up all my life,
gave me hope during my most hopeless years?
When you look at this peaceful, smiling woman,
would you ever guess that inside her lives
a terrified child with a history of trauma and abuse,
with a lifelong dream of a love that never arrived
in the way that she dreamed, yet arrived, nevertheless,
in ways more amazing than I ever could have imagined,
better, more perfect, because it taught me
to love the whole world.
We approach the blank page with
our minds and fingers, rolling out our history
- our her-story - in fragments, in memories,
in stories of that time out of time
burnished golden by the setting sun
of our old age. Growing old
is to live in the Country of Perspective,
which would have been helpful to have
when we were young and green and growing
through a confluence of conflicting experiences.
We picked our way through like sniffing dogs
in a minefield, aware that under every rock
lay hidden the potential of devastation:
so many times we crossed that emotional wasteland
until we learned to trust the most important one
we need to trust: ourselves. And then
we learned to laugh.
And then to sing.
Watch me standing in the forest, breathing peace.
You can't tell, but the trees and I are speaking,
in the language of spirit, shape-shifters,
listening to the whispers of
the wild ones hiding among the leaves.
A little girl once wandered through the forest
seeking kinship with ponderosa pine;
and now an old woman communes with
trees that always were, and never can be,
Last night I watched Don't Be Nice, a film about slam poets and their poetry which blew my mind. They said "what is the story behind the poem? write that" and this spoke to me. I also saw the power of performing a poem, more than simply reading it in rote fashion. It makes a difference. They made me want to up my game.