I found I had more on my worry list than could fit into the days I have before I travel. And so I have delayed my trip and am spending a few vacation days at home instead. However I spend it, hopefully two weeks away from work will be enough time to clear my head of the huge chunk that work occupies, and perhaps, think a bit about what’s next. I expect to retire at 70, now 18 months away. Of course, if I’m well enough (so far, so good on that front), I won’t really leave work I’ve loved for the past 40 years completely behind me, just cut my work hours down to suit my schedule, instead of the other way around. I’ll transition my primary allegiance from nurse practitioner to poet.
I will travel next week to the Jersey shore, as I do every year, to spend delicious, relaxing time with family. As a new citizen of the Pacific NW, I have learned to feel at home with a different coast and ocean than the one I grew up with. But a year without gazing at the Atlantic from a familiar spot on the Eastern seaboard would be devastating for me.
And during the stay-cation portion, I look forward to several poetry-related tasks: a book review for The Rumpus; reading a manuscript for my press; feedback on poems from a friend.
And hopefully, some revision work on my current manuscript. Right now I have about 60 poems I am working with, and I have some tickling ideas about how to strengthen these poems. Something I haven’t done much before is using space on the page differently than same-old left-margin stanzas. I’m having no luck placing these poems, perhaps they are not “quite there” as one journal put it. But more and more, I think they just need to be read as a collection, in conversation with one another. They are also the most personal poems I have written.
The burden of submission-and-rejection is too much for me right now. So I may publish more of them here in my blog.
Pieces of a Story
I couldn’t have reached this place without kinship
couldn’t have been born without my mother
or my father, for that matter, or become who I am
without my brother or the sister who died at her birth
eight years before mine, now an archetype
much grander than I can ever become
without so much as a whimper.
Or the cousin my aunt gave away (not exactly thoughtlessly)
without knowing the effect
it would have on her in-wedlock children
two born before
and one after
the affair. Or for that matter, the effect of her untimely death
on all of us, god forbid what happened to her daughters in foster care.
And to peripheral me who was ignorant
[[[[ ignorant ]]]]
of the born-dead girl and the give-away boy.
As sordidly do I blemish others—
lost custody of my own son, letting go mournfully
like any mother
so much so that most of my story
are the pieces I did not know.