Yesterday, while gazing out my kitchen window and munching on figs—because dried figs are the most amazing food on the planet—I saw a rabbit race across the lawn chased by a hissing squirrel. Wabbit season, I thought as I moved away from the window and smirked at the empty room. The house was quiet, and because I’m trying to sell it, uncommonly tidy, the usual assemblage of dirty dishes and papers replaced by an elegant vase of fresh tulips and litter-free countertops. Outside spring had arrived, hence rabbits, and here in Massachusetts 2018, that’s a big deal after an interminable winter. And, between the painting and scrubbing and putting away required to get the house ready to show, it was the first moment of peace I’d had in weeks. In fact, the first clear head and clean slate I’d had in decades. I was finally divorced, my house for sale, the air warm and dry, and here were figs, rabbits, and the angry, yet comical, squirrels. What else could a girl want? Change was upon me. So, I opened my laptop.
I’d been thinking about writing a blog for over a year. In fact, I am a great planner of blogs: a blog of love letters to everything, a blog of short stories featuring different wines, a book reviews blog, a blog in which I do a small act of activism every day, and so on. But a blog is a big commitment, and if you don’t know what it is you really want to say, not worth starting.
I shoved another fig into my mouth.
Plus, I had been otherwise committed to “figuring my shit out.” The last four years had been everything but tidy. I’ll spare you the litany of affronts my heart and body had endured. But, suffice to say, when you are the rabbit running for your life, it’s not a great time to plan your next big project. Neither is it a good time when you’re that rabbit freaked out in your hole wondering what you did wrong and how the world suddenly became full of hissing squirrels. Too many questions and not enough answers do not a blog make. Also, if I’m honest, I think I am one of those writers afraid of her own voice. I’d much rather get cozy in my corner and write obscure poetry only a few people will read. A blog is public, and the public judges. And what did I know about anything anyway?
But, there I was yesterday at the edge of those four years. According to my horoscope, planets were shifting above in uncommon fashion and now marked the beginning of a period of growth that would last the next eight years. Even without the stars, I knew I was on the verge of something. I had done a lot of internal work, a lot of crying, figuring out, hoping, and just letting go. I’d come to a place where I knew I’d be ok, better than ok.
My creative mind fired with a new intensity too. I’d find myself driving in the car to pick up more sponges or drop off more clothes at the Salvation Army with a tweaked sense of awareness; colors were brighter, people more fascinating, my ability to put two and two together amped. Everything was wondrous, wild, and full. Too, people seemed uncharacteristically drawn to me. A truck driver sped up to me while speeding on the highway and when I looked over, gave me a thumbs-up and a smile before driving away. Old friends sought me out for conversations and coffee. Three of them literally said they loved my energy and just wanted to be near it. Did I mention it was spring? Maybe it was the figs. They do have tons of magnesium, which elevates one’s serotonin levels.
Regardless, I still didn’t know what the blog was going to be about. I am primarily a poet, but I imagined writing essays about my daily life in the style of E.B. White on his New England farm, all those bright noticings making sense on the page, the internal work in real time, a blog to help other people, a blog about daily connections, a blog that reached for beauty like a child absent-mindedly reaches for a parents’ hand. Plus, yah, I still wanted to write the wine short stories and the book reviews.
My thoughts scattered, I went to my bookshelf as I often do when looking for answers and pulled out The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, by Milan Kundera in search of some guidance—a title for my blog perhaps, something to point me in a direction. I’m a huge fan of Kundera’s. This book is my favorite. Laughter and forgetting, right up my alley. In that quiet and clean kitchen, I held the book and let my fingers quickly flip through the pages until I landed on a spot that felt good. By that, I mean a place my body chose rather than my mind. I opened to the page, closed my eyes, and pointed. When I looked, my finger was on the word “poems.” The book is 236 pages, small print, and I landed on poems. I was stunned and dismayed.
Sigh. I thought I was writing essays. In fact, recently I haven’t been sure about poetry at all. I’ve even considered giving up on it for other genres. But when seeking answers blindly in the pages of a book authored by a dead writer from Prague, one must acquiesce.
Ok. Poems and what? I flipped the pages and pointed again. The next word was “and.” One more time, I thought. Poems and what, Milan? “Possible.” Well, that’s an adjective, so Poems And Possible what? Next word…”Inconceivables.” My body nearly shook.
I loved the idea of inconceivables. In that word stood the events of my unknown future, events I welcomed and which Kundera was suggesting would be equal to poetry as if in one hand were poems and in the other the details of my new life. Hmmm.
“Possible” suggested possibility suggested positivity.
Poems and Possible Inconceivables? Is that the name of the blog? Can any kind of writing, any thing for that matter, be a poem given the proper sun and water—my essays, my empty kitchen?
Just for yucks, I shuffled the pages once more, found a page that felt good, and dragged the tip of my finger along the paper with my eyes closed. I stopped and opened my eyes to find my finger in a spot between lines. On the line above my finger were the words “Yes, she wanted.” And in the line below my finger were the words “Yes, she wanted.” It was one of those rare occasions in prose when a repetition falls right in the same spot on the next line. Gertrude Stein said that repetition is insistence.
Yes, she wanted poems and possible inconceivables. Yes! I did want poems and possible inconceivables. Perhaps this was my tombstone inscription as well. (If I die and you read this, make it so.)
Right then, I wrote to a group of my friends to tell them the news. Kundera had spoken to me. He truly understood. Then, I got the email. There was a full-price offer on the house from a young couple who thought it would be “a perfect place to start their family.” It isn’t going to be easy, I wanted to tell them.
The tulips in the vase looked at me, and I looked back out the kitchen window, empty fig-bag on the table. There stood a long forgotten swing set climbing gym contraption, mossy now and part of the scenery. I wanted to go out there and sit and stare at this house. Instead, I went back to the bookshelf where I found a book my daughter made in the fifth grade. She had taken one of my poems and had written one line on each page, fully illustrated with an accordion fold. I opened it to a random page, closed my eyes, and pointed. A snow-covered emptiness filled the page—white and blue with a black car on a gray road, the outlines of small birds on the ground–and words I’d written just about four years ago: “Why are the birds here? Why don’t they fly?”