Thursday, March 10, 2011

And When the Poems Go

Photo: Ann Arbor
It's March, it's Lent, and I've just put down a poem.

The way that comes out on the page, it sounds as if I've killed it, shot an overdose of morphine deep into the poem's blood supply.   That's not exactly what happened, though it's true there is a violence to poetry, a way in which the words have been torn, with care but with considerable force, from their contexts.  I love it, anyway.

I love it, but I don't read it.  Or barely, in spurts, painful jags that remind me of the time I ate a whole sleeve of girl scout cookies.  Reading poetry makes me wish I had the time to read more poetry.  It demands of me point blank: Why aren't you writing? 

But Lent is perfect for poems. As a churchgoing nonbeliever, I watch, but do not typically participate in, the ever-onward march of the church calendar.   I have an amateur's eye for detail, an outsider's yen for plucking, from the forest, particular trees.  I can tell St. Andrew's Day from St. Anselm's (sort of), Epiphany from Easter.  I know the liturgical color for Pentacost, and the fact that there are no pentagrams involved.  I know that there's a feast day called Ascension, but not, disappointingly, one called Declension.

And I know about Lent.  40 days and 40 nights during which you are supposed to impose, upon yourself, discipline.  Usually this means denying yourself something: sweets, Facebook, soda, TV.  But it can also mean taking something on: reading verses of the bible, or praying, or whatnot.

I choose poetry.  A poem a day, until the kids go hunting for eggs and the churchgoers shriek alleluia.  There are a variety of daily poetry websites I could rely on here, but the truth is, I've got a lot of poems lying around the house.  I doubt I'll be crazy about all of them (one of my favorite poetry journals changed editorial hands a couple of years ago) but it's time to march my eyes across them, anyhow. 

Not sure who the saints are in this particular scenario, but I know there'll be music, at least.

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