I feel far from poetry lately, so I visited Louise Gluck:
Morning quivers in the thorns; above the budded snowdrops
caked with dew like little virgins, the azalea bush
ejects its first leaves, and it is spring again.
The willow waits its turn, the coast
is coated with a faint green fuzz, anticipating
mold. Only I
do not collaborate, having
flowered earlier. I am no longer young. What
of it? Summer approaches, and the long
decaying days of autumn when I shall begin
the great poems of my middle period.
[from To Autumn, Poems 1962-2012]
Summer is approaching – the weather today is warm, sweater-less. But according to the numbers, I am in the autumn of my life.
Why is it so hard to say this? We grow, we grow older.
I have always loved autumn, which somehow holds more promise than Spring. It’s cozier, more thrilling. Perhaps I’m still programmed for the academic calendars where September is the beginning of something. Or perhaps I forget I’m no longer in Canada, where autumn is crisp and bright, red and gold.
Where are the great poems of my middle period? Or even the good ones. Or any ones? They won’t come while I’m worrying about money or my digital profile – i.e. can I keep not being on twitter? Why do we want or need to be so visible? Is it because there’s so much out there – so much chatter and ideas and images – that a person needs to keep jumping up to be seen and acknowledged?
I returned to Louise Gluck and found Swans:
You were both quiet, looking out over the water.
It was not now; it was years ago,
before you were married.
The sky above the sea had turned
the odd pale peach color of early evening
from which the sea withdrew, bearing
its carved boats: your bodies were like that.
But her face was raised to you,
against the dull waves, simplified
by passion. Then you raised your hand…
I want that quiet, and the water, and the pale peach sky.
Swans speaks from the ’80s, when there were no phones capturing the view, no messages pinging into them.
There was only him and her at that moment, and the water and the sky. Until the swans came.
I don’t want to turn back the clock – I like it here. I just want to slow down and find some quiet. And then the poems might come. And the play might find its equilibrium and sense of purpose.
Life feels too busy to think or read enough. What’s the solution? More time? Fewer distractions?
How do other writers manage finances and other commitments (like family) and still make time to write?
How do you do it?