The business of writing is like riding a wild horse through a desert WHILE NAKED, without a saddle, one hand holding a fragile egg, the other a bunch of the horse mane.
You have to be Brazen because you are naked.
You have to be Skilled so you won’t fall.
You have to be Crazy because, who does this?
And you have to be TOTALLY COMMITED to delivering the fragile egg that is your creativity UNBROKEN to the one who will love it, the one who needed it.
I actually wrote this years ago about trying be an artist back in the day, but it applies to anything creative. There are lots of ways to do lots of things, but creativity is a wild horse and being brazen, skilled and crazy, in equal measure go a long way to keep you going. But staying committed and not getting broken, that’s hard. Like everything, if it is not about satisfying our own egos, if the intent is reaching someone, we have a chance of getting through the many deserts.
Her bedroom curtains are always open and I can see when the light beside her bed is off
5:00a.m. Her pillow askew. The sheets thrown back. The slippers gone: I know that both of us are once again awake before dawn.
Then I get sick.
I’m sleeping around the clock. Until one night, I get up a lot to have a pee or take a pill.
I see her light is still on, her white head asleep on her pillow, curled on her side towards the window.
And I still don’t stop to wonder about her because I’m so sick.
Maybe the day after or the one after that. I finally stop and see she’s gone. Along with everything in her room.
The windows are open.
The light of the sun sweeps across the bare floor.
Until someone comes, and her curtains for the first time, are drawn.
by Rio Murphy
When she was my child
I paused at the perfect curl of her earlobe.
She was a comma in my diatribe
about laundry and bills,
my aching back,
the sticky handprints everywhere,
the runny noses and endless nights of fitful sleep:
The Joy of Her.
When she was myself,
if I looked away
and back again
She was a blinking cursor.
When she was my old mother
with her tissue paper skin
and brittle bones on which it hung,
one black pupil
the colourless iris of
her one sighted eye
—the spoon suspended halfway to her lips Like a question mark—
she was the poem
I could not write.
A woman poem is a ribbon in a river flashing underwater,
It catches on an ankle,
Then slips away over black river stones, unknown.
LOVE AFTER LOVE
by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
This reading is part of On Being’s altogether wonderful poetry archive.
I won’t worry about my grown children,
or think about why I ache when I think of them.
Today I bake.
Inhale the frothy smell of yeast rising like magic.
Throw the dough on to the board, flour filling the air with clouds.
Wipe my hands on my apron then
put my shoulder into it,
Kneading. Kneading. Kneading.
My mother would kiss the dough and tell me as she formed it into buns, “Like babies’ bums”.
When I close my eyes I’m in her kitchen.
The smell of baking filling the house.
And then the timer chimes and I wait like a child,
impatient for the bread to cool:
My own mother now,
my own child.
I find writing excruciatingly difficult but it feels so good when I stop. And just having someone take the time to read something I’ve written thoughtfully is huge for me.
The idea of making enough money to live on from my writing is like comparing me, stumbling along with my bundle buggy to the grocery store, to an astronaut in a rocket shooting for the moon.
HOWEVER, I don’t think there is an astronaut who doesn’t see the same moon as I see when I am happy to sit by my window and stare at it.
Before you could read a poem,
you were a poem.