It is beautiful here today. The sun is shining, there is a gentle breeze and the temperature is perfect, it is calm and peaceful. I was walking earlier and remembered a poem I had written about Nebraska and the breezes I was enjoying.
As I begin to more seriously embrace this blog and the formation of a book, I decided to share some of the poems and other things I had written 20 years ago to remind me and inspire me and encourage me.
I remembered my creative writing teacher in high school. She told me then I should be majoring in creative writing when I was to go off to college the next year. It had never occurred to me that writing could be my future. My life then was challenge enough; I was happy that I was going to college. I was going to a small private school in my hometown. I was going on loans and a couple of scholarships. It was expensive, if I had realized how long I’d be paying of student loans, perhaps I could have figured out a way to get to a public school. The fact is though, it is the only school I applied to. I was living on my own then with no reliable transportation and no family support. It wasn’t physically possible for me to even get to another school. Even if I lived on campus in a dorm, I would not have had anyplace to go over holidays or summer breaks. In my hometown, I knew I could figure things out, but going anyplace else was intimidating and seemed impossible.
My life then would not allow me to dream of being a writer. I thought teacher. I could be a teacher. Except for a couple of evening college courses, I have never taught. I did not write for a long time either. Social media pushed me to writing again. The longs posts, sharing my family’s journey with Duchenne, it woke something up inside of me. There was a writer shoved way down in there, screaming to get out.
As I started to think about this blog and starting a book, it was the memories of that high school creative writing class, the comment from a teacher that she thought I should major in creative writing and the pieces I save from classes that gave me just enough confidence to try.
I’m rereading the poems. The one I mentioned is not as good as I remembered it. I would for sure make some edits. This particular poem, I entered into a contest. I didn’t win or get honorable mention, but the professor, the judge, that addressed us that day at the contest talked about one of the lines in my poems.
“My home is in Nebraska, where the long grass sways in the powerful wind. The grass is a sea of greens and yellows, drowning in the wind.”
It was mentioned over and over again. At the end of the day, as the kids from my school were piling out of the school van we took to the contest, the teacher, not my own, but the one that volunteered to drive us, caught me. She told me that having my poem mentioned and discussed, was better than winning. I still remember that. It felt pretty good, because not many people told me I was good at or good enough to do anything.
The entire poem:
My home is in Nebraska,
where the long grass sways in
the powerful wind.
The grass is a sea of greens and yellows,
drowning in the wind.
The grasses swim as the wind blows.
In summer storms the wind is full of strength
as it dives into the green seas,
causing them to scatter across the prairies.
The grass sways as the wind blows.
On spring days it is gentle,
flapping the clothes on the line,
and catching the hair of young lovers.
Follow the spirit of the wind.
The grass dances as the wind blows.
It shakes and moves as no human could.
It would wear red, if in a hall,
for it is free, moving whichever way
the wind directs.
The Grass is a wild mass of color.
It is free, never stopping for the breath that it steals
from the inhabitants with whom it shares the land.
Follow the spirit of the wind.
As I’m looking through my poems today I’ve read some that are pretty tough to read. I’m having a hard time understanding how my 18-year-old self had the guts to write about these things, knowing a teacher was going to read them. I think writing was my therapy then and probable still now. It gave me words. It justified or helped me make sense of the things I was feeling, experiencing, watching. She accepted and encouraged all of it.
Another poem and then I’ll be done, I promise.
The clear brown glass
was like the ghost
of the person
she used to be.
She was transparent
to all who loved her.
They knew the bottle
was a hopeful cure.
They absorbed the pain
she trailed behind,
and the bottle swallowed
the hurt she left inside.
Her wounds were drowned,
and everyone cried
at the barren woman
the bottle left behind.
My youngest daughter will start preschool in the fall and I plan to use those hours to sit and write. I want to finish a book in the next year. My childhood is something I don’t think about often, but as of late, it keeps coming to the surface. I have to put it down so I don’t forget again. Forgive me, if the blog is heavy with my early life right now. It is part of the storm I’ve weathered.