I am so thankful for the surprises of poetry in email. I love the stream of consciousness blurt of expression that comes between directions and requests. There are so many moments, in personal emails, when the writer slips out of her communication to me and begins to tap into her true nature. It is the intimacy of letter writing. The writer can hardly stop from being so inside of herself. The words she uses are drenched in her pronunciation. The pure joy of language catches me off guard between advertisements (and there were many this cyber Monday) and meeting minutes.
I am thankful for another kind of email poetics as well: the well-crafted line that’s been revised, revised and edited only to contain some happy accident of word play (which seems no accident). These messages move me off point and into the approaching storm of my imagination. For a minute, I get to wonder what world these words live in when they come from without me. Eventually, I know I need to respond to my senders’ requests, so I do, putting the poetics aside for a minute until I can formulate a clear, concise response and click “send.”
I always go back, though, and save these quick notes to some special folders, only to lose them as more come in. I can’t keep every lovely bit of language that comes to me through the ether, but that has never stopped me from trying.
And it didn’t stop me today when a perfect stranger sent me a real-life, honest to God poem…in tercets, nonetheless. How beautiful is that? A person took the time, not to write for any gain or functionality, but because the words were so inside of him, he had nothing left to do but let the letters rain onto the page in perfect sans-serif puddles.
And I was lucky enough to witness it.
Tonight, as I was driving home from work, I navigated around a truck stopped dead in the Lowry Hill tunnel. I thought about how reliable my car has been and for how long it has been that reliable. It’s twelve years old. I know it won’t run much longer. But I have so many memories of sitting behind that wheel that when it’s time for me to give it up, I will be ending a chapter in my life. It is not just a hunk of metal; it has quite literally been my vehicle for transformation. That car has moved me into all of my adult, single girl apartments. It’s taken me to weddings and funerals, job interviews and performances. It has saved me on winter streets, and it has sheltered me when I have needed to gather my thoughts and had nowhere else to turn. It’s taken me north, south and east across this country. Since the first time I slid in behind the wheel, it’s been my ticket to freedom.
I have often taken it for granted, like this morning, when I stumbled out of my apartment, half asleep. I rested my coffee mug on its hood as I juggled my bags into the passenger’s seat. I turned the ignition and was on my way. I was so certain that it would start that it didn’t even occur to me to be grateful. However, tonight I am, and for the next couple of months, I will be even more grateful still. Each day saying a moment of thanks as I pull into my parking spot, remove my key and amble safely into my home.
Today, I feel grateful to live in a culture where the citizens have not only the right to vote, but the right to say whatever we’d like about the candidates, the ballot issues and the process of voting itself. We have the opportunity to meet, talk to and befriend the people who run our local governments. We eat in the same restaurants and shop in the same grocery stores. We cheer at the same hockey games and attend the same concerts. At any time, we could throw our hats in the ring and work to become one of those lawmakers.
During this election season, I find that it is easy to get bogged down in the negative messages from “the other side.” However, when I can stay focused in the hope I have for my culture and the role I can play in making that hope into a reality, I feel the nervous excitement tingling inside of me. I see a glimpse of the prospects for a future that I look forward to. I let go of my attachment to the results as I’ve imagined them to be, and I allow myself to experience the electric buzz lifting off the ground in my community which, for better or worse, is founded on self-expression.
Today, I am grateful for an autumn walk just after dusk. I am thankful for one last activity to ground me in the present moment, to ground me in my life right now. This is the place where I live. This is the body I am living in. Tomorrow these two things will be a little different. It is a gift to be able to spend time in the place where I am today.
My neighborhood is particularly beautiful with many old street lights that glow pink in the sunset and many old houses. As the sky turns from pink to gray, the lights in my neighbors’ homes come on slowly. One light bulb flicker at a time, illuminating the spaces they will use next.
A few of their children—those who do not tire so easily—are still in their front yards inventing games and laughing with each other breathlessly. They don’t wear coats, though I have my hat pulled down around my ears. They are not thinking about that encroaching evening when white puffs of breath restrict their lungs. They are creating the world where they like to live best. They are spinning out of control, living full-out. They will sleep so well tonight after eating the hot meals being prepared for them.
Their dogs bark more frequently. Since softer light prevents them from relying so much on their eyesight, they are quicker to claim their posts. “I am here,” they reassure. Reminding me that even when I cannot fully see my situation, I am just as safe. The sound of my own voice is a comfort to my uncertain self. I may not know all of what happens in the world, but I know where I’m standing. I know I’m not alone.
While the squirrels and birds have found quiet spots for the evening, the rabbits feel safer in the openings in darkness. They rush flower gardens in search of remaining leaves and petals, quickly tasting the last sweetness before winter.
I luxuriate in the smell of drying maple leaves just before the cold of night erases them. They are not as bright as they used to be. Instead of oranges and reds, they have curled into clay. And more of them crunch beneath my feet than quiver in the wind. The emptiness of branches yields beauty still. The long lines of limbs and branches create an opening for what the weather brings next.
As the mild light retreats further, so does my ambition. I am moving forward, one languid step at a time, closer and closer to the warmth of home.