Some days, poetry finds me. It comes to my window and taps on the glass, hopping about on the branch until I let it in. Then it flits about the room, alighting on everything—a scarf of bundled thoughts hanging out of drawer, a tumbled down box of unfinished stories, maybe on a jewelry box full of bright ideas.
If I’m lucky and sit very still, it might come and perch beside me.
Today, however, I have a songbird on the loose. It’s in the kitchen now on the edge of the mixing bowl. Before that, it was poking at books, and before that, it was practicing arias in the attic.
It’s bad enough when you sit down to write, a thousand words waiting in the wings, and page fright strikes. It’s worse when they start coming out in stanzas, random line breaks cutting into your prose like an impromptu dance number. And if you face the music and try to make it poetry, the metaphor starts to break down.
It doesn’t do to try and put poetry where it doesn’t want to nest. Like today, for example. I have a thousand ideas, enough feelings to fill the British Museum, enough sensations for the Smithsonian, but I can’t seem to gather the right materials together. This dryer lint, kite string, and confetti won’t do much. Poetry is here—I hear it—but everyone knows if you chase a bird, it’ll fly away.
Most of the time, poetry shows up when I least expect it to. It doesn’t fly out of the cupboards or ring the bell. Mostly, I look up and find it there, looking at me and then my pencil. When the fresh scent of morning flowers passes me by, it’s there. When rain is throwing itself against my inner windows, it’s there, sitting on the bookshelf.
Today I left all my windows open, and now it’s here and I don’t know where I put the birdseed.