The past few weeks, this poem has bubbled up slowly. It was no doubt inspired by the rediscovery of my writing notebook from my Summer Institute with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. The words drew me back to that magical summer of writing, teaching and connecting with this network of people and friends.
Beyond the Cloth of Broken Glass
I came upon myself today
and I was trapped inside the page
of an ratty old notebook that had been sitting there
for ages and ages
and I reflected on the hours — oh, those glorious hours —
in which I had been the writer, and nothing more,
just a pure scribbler armed with paper, pen, a locked door and an open mind.
And so, I removed all of my clothes
and danced naked among ruins of the long-forgotten poetry
of rhythm and rhyme that had been long lost to time’s fickle ways.
I squeezed in among the half-finished chords littered with abandoned notes
just yearning for a special place somewhere farther up the staff
but now rendered immobile with forgetfulness.
I inched forward onto the stage, into the plays, an actor composed of thoughts,
and inhabited the characters who moved inside my singular spotlight of mind,
and then vanished behind the curtain call of the closed notebook cover.
It was then that I found the letter,
the note that I wrote on a day when I had nothing better to do
but muse upon the future, the “me” that now reads the “me,”
and I uncorked this bottle
and sank down into the words that I created for only my eyes to see:
“Write with your heart, search with your soul,
hold tight to the love,
so that you don’t fall back into the weariness
and uncertainty that seems to shove up against you at every turn,
and, for God’s sake,
don’t wrap yourself up again in that cloth of broken glass —
the shards will surely cut anyone
who comes in close and you — me, we — we may not last
if you have to go it alone in this world.”
Bits of glass stung my tongue as the memory crawled back
and I remembered, finally, what this was,
this pad of paper filled with words from some other time
that had been squirreled away.
It had been a lifeline holding me together
when everything else was coming undone
and I feared the loosening of the threads above all else.
I closed the past and tucked it back where it belonged
and let the words of that letter settle in and live with me again as a friend
as I pulled up my blanket of silk and cotton threads and connectiveness and comfort
and silently slipped into a safe sleep.
Peace (in poetry),