I slip them into letters, serve them with dinner, and sprinkle them into everything from congratulations to condolences. I'm always sharing poems.
But sometimes my enthusiasm can be a bit much.
I don't really like poetry, a young writer recently admitted. I don't get it.
I gathered myself, rose to full posture and began my poetry pep talk.
She was right. I sometimes don't like poetry either. I get frustrated by clever phrasing, put off by evasive "meaning," and annoyed with lofty voice. Some days I want nothing to do with poets or poetry. All that suffering. All that longing. Too much whining. Let's get a Slurpee instead!
And then, a few days later, I find a killer poem. I climb into the poem like a kid in a tree, reaching higher and higher for the best view and the perfect perch. And then, because I've tasted how words, experience and perspective can blend, bend and sing, I clamber down to earth to write my own.
So I say to my young friend, Yes, yes, I know. But poems aren't secrets or tests. You don't need to analyze, you just need to feel.
She nods, and I can't tell if she agrees or is ready to bolt. I stop waving the poetry flag. We talk fiction instead.
And then, weeks later, she sends me a poem.
I found this and thought you might like it, she writes. And, of course, I do. I love the poem, the discovery of the poem, and the young woman finding her way with words.
Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error! —
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
- Antonio Machado
It's Thankful Thursday. Joy expands and contracts in direct relation to our sense of gratitude. What are you thankful for today? A person, a place, a thing? A story, a song, a poem? What makes your world, your heart, expand?