Hello, paper. I love writing a poem a day on you or on my screen and sending it to my best friend who sails around the world with his wife. He sends me a poem a day back. I’ve been doing this since April 2010.
I love writing it no matter what, though for a long time I bucked like a wild horse, resisting it, resenting it.. feeling like I’d shackled myself to the desk to write a damn poem. Here’s what tamed me: I wrote to my friend and his wife and told them that after four years of sending them poems, I was exhausted and not enjoying it and it was time to move on.
My friend wrote back: “Every night I make dinner. After we eat, she washes the dishes, I open my laptop and read your poem aloud. You can’t stop. You’re our entertainment!”
This changed everything. It was no longer about me, me, me. He turned it into a service. Something I was doing for them.
So I kept writing…and so did he. And it’s turned into part of our DNA. There are times we don’t have time to write—or barely have time to pee. Or maybe one of us has a fever. Or, say, my husband is in a medically induced coma (that was in 2012—he’s fine now). There are times that there is no freaking way one of us can possibly write a poem.
We write one anyway.
There is an escape clause—it’s called a PHP—a Place Holder Poem, our fancy term for a fast poem, a crappy poem. It could be a couplet or a really stupid limerick or a poem that makes no sense whatsoever. I love this. It means I can breathe within our structure.
Once I’ve written my poem and pressed “send,” I don’t remember it. And if, per chance he swoons over a poem, I read it again and sometimes I swoon, too, thinking, “Who wrote this?”
Writing a poem is like putting together a puzzle. I can sweat over one right word for more than an hour. Sometimes I give up because I need to make dinner or meet a friend, and I’ll slip in a right enough word. And that’s okay. These are all rough drafts.
But when I found that word, when I’ve shifted through the pile of rocks or shells or sea glass and found the right one, it’s like finding the last puzzle piece and slipping it in place. Click.