This poem needs a sacrifice

Last night I took a drive. Not because I felt I needed to, but because my mom sent me a $10 coupon for shoes and I wanted to look at the sale shoes. I bought a new CD. “Lungs” by Florence + The Machine. Her music is epic. Not the epic that teenagers say these days, but epic like a gospel, a cathedral, layers upon layers of sounds and voices. She makes me feel like I’m taking a journey somewhere and I was, I was trying.
If I could drive and write I would. Something about the motion and being still. The sun behind me was electric. A tangerine split in two by the sliver of a blue cloud.
I’m lost inside a poem. It keeps turning on its back. “you’re putting the work in. that’s all that matters,” C said. And I know she’s right. “You don’t have to know where it’s going.”
Writing is so much about trust, is it not? We have to trust how it feels inside us, trust when it tells us it needs more, less, everything, nothing. We have to trust when to push harder and when to give it space. It could be the tiniest whisper or a strand – one small word that changes everything.
This poem needs a sacrifice. It needs something I’m not sure I can give it, not sure that I have. I feel like giving up and then I don’t. I feel tired and quiet, but I also feel calm and loved.
I remember a friend asking me once how I knew something was done.
You just do, I said.
The writing gods don’t just suddenly hand you your poem on a platter fully dressed and adorned. It’s in the work. It’s the moment you take your hands away and it walks on its own.
It’s not finished until it can stand on its own

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6 Responses to This poem needs a sacrifice

  1. I like that very much. “It’s not finished until it can stand on its own.” Nothing about perfection (try and find THAT) but about being fully developed, strong, able.

    • rachvb says:

      I don’t know if I believe in perfection anymore. In anything.

      • Rachel, dear, we all get stuck–in poems, in relationships, in life. it’s hard to bear the stasis, the itchiness, the anxiety, the worry, the self-doubt. Your poem is asking you to be patient, to listen carefully and well, to exist in a state of belief that it will show itself to you, that you can help it by bearing not knowing, but trusting that it will stand on its own when it’s ready. It sounds like magic, and I don’t mean the poetry gods will suddenly hand it to you, fully formed, a gift from the angels. But sometimes the anxiety and self-doubt push you deeper into the poem, may take you where you need to go. The waiting is terrible, terrifying. But trust that whatever you are doing will lead to growth. No, there is no perfection. But there is attention. Hold on.

        • rachvb says:

          you are right we get stuck in just about everything we do – at times. I think this one is taking longer than I’m used to and I’m unsure. I’m also a bit tired of the weight it carries, but know it requires me to carry it.
          Last night I was writing and exhausted and somehow knew it wanted me there. I just hope I can take it where it needs/wants to go.
          thank you. It is in definite need of attention.

  2. Ah, Melissa, yes. . . ‘there is no perfection, but there is attention.’ I don’t think I can add anything to this truth, or to Rachel’s line – & Marylinn’s affirmation. . . ‘it’s in the work. It’s the moment you take your hands away and it walks on its own. It’s not finished until it can stand on its own’ except maybe to suggest that patience is key and that we cannot underestimate the energy in restraint.
    Hang in there, but not too tightly!
    L, C xo

    • rachvb says:

      Thank you, dear Claire.
      Now I’m afraid I’m talking it up too much. But it will be what it will be. Push it and then let it breathe.
      Hanging! But not too tightly 😉

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