Helen Was a Poet – Perhaps I Never Will Be

I’ve been working on several blog posts – none of which seemed to be working.  I looked for some notes on Emily Dickinson for one of the posts from a pile of  saved notes and papers where  I stumbled upon Helen’s handwritten words on a note card.  I was caught off guard by her beautiful, readable handwriting.   Helen was a dear friend and poet who died recently.   I was also struck by her use of em dashes, a signature trademark of Emily.

And where did she learn to make her ampersands?  I wondered.   A lazy spiral form is how they appear–an overused slinky, all coiled out.  “And” in ampersand mode dangles, falls away from the rest of the orderly script.

Thoughts begin to take shape and I take the following notes:

Her handwriting clings to page

Neat rows like precisely hung laundry,

perfectly pinned

Except those penned ampersand “and’s”

Hung between thoughts,

a stunning array of spiraling, loopy figure eights

As if tossed by an unseen wind—a shift—

perhaps this momentary pause—

With a dash she punctuates each line

And knows that everything dries in the sun

absorbs into a secret language—

I can see her as she puts her finger to lips

Shhhhh – she whispers

“It was fun & exciting & scary & all the rest!!”

She ends with hope — that all is well—

And I can see the pen has fallen—fallen away.

This is the draft that came to me as I held the note card from Helen, read her words, penned in her own now-stilled hand.   Of course, like most writing at this stage, I don’t even know what I’m writing about.  I really have sparse clues as to what anything means or what it may become.  My job as writer in this particular moment is to write down what thoughts arrive – the thoughts that seem to want to be a poem.  The metaphor seems to be clothes drying on a line.  But who knows where this will lead.  Who knows where any writing will lead?

And I think this helps explain the writing process.  You’re writing about one thing or several things & get distracted by looking for something else & in a moment of reflection (when you’re not even expecting it) something starts to develop & you write it down.  I guess this is why I’ve always felt that I’m a note-taker more than a writer.  Over the past 25 years or so, I’ve gotten good at writing things down that come to me.  My problem was, and still is and always will be, how to finish something into a publishable form.  To get to the end of being led – that is my ultimate goal.

So for now – other posts in draft form await.  This came to me today in this moment and I thought I’d share.

I’d love to hear about your experiences.  We can all learn from each other so any insight you have to offer would be wonderful.

Hope all are having a creative holiday season between all the merry – merrying.  Cheers.

PS – Hope you get a chance to check my Etsy shop for the art part of my life.  And don’t forget, the Peace Santa is only available until the end of the year.  My hand-signed poems are available there as well.

Some thoughts on my journaling process are available here.  I retreived Helen’s card from a stack of other cards and thought I’d share the process with you.  You just never know what will trigger your thoughts.  Just be prepared to write them down when they arrive.  Happy journaling.


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