My poem “Finally Becoming Gaia” was just published in Clover, A Literary Rag, Vol. 6, – Winter 2013 edition.
I am always grateful when my work is selected for publication, and find myself on a writer’s high until the next rejection notice comes in. The rejections both humble and motivate me.
So while still high at my desk this morning, I began thinking about the “life” of this poem and was suddenly filled with gratitude for the myriad of ways a poem comes into existence at all, and how it truly “takes a village” to raise a poem.
My initial inspiration for this poem came from a common household spider that I first noticed on the mirror above my bathroom sink one morning. What began as an ordinary day was suddenly transformed when I could not get this spider out of my head. First while brushing my teeth, later when dressing for the day, and finally upon going to bed. I don’t know why I felt the way I did, suddenly empathetic towards this spider, but I knew I was experiencing an unexpected shift in my view of the world and my role in it.
Much of my poetry starts this way, with routine tasks suddenly viewed through a new lens that allows language to flow and unexpected thoughts to exist, and I am always grateful when I can shape these thoughts and feelings into poems.
But I am also grateful for both the experiences and people who help move my poems forward, sometimes with intent, often without, but forward none the less. This one small poem thanks:
1-Our friends who invited my husband and I to house sit their home in San Diego for a year in 2011. It was here that “Gaia” began, on a early fall morning while brushing my teeth. I still remember the light that day was the color of a golden raisin with a magic I could feel.
2- The unknown woman who came up to me after I read an earlier version of this poem at the Act Theatre in Seattle in August of 2012. She told me this particular poem resonated with her and encouraged me to keep writing. I was new to poetry and unsure of my place in the poetry world, but decided then and there, that if just one person connected to what I wrote, it would be enough.
3- Sandy Kleven and Mike Burell from Cirque, A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim, who allowed me to read this poem and others, in Seattle and Bellingham in August 2012. Their inclusiveness towards emerging writers provided me two new experiences. The first was to participate in a poetry reading and the second was to have my first poems published in their beautiful journal.
4- The Bellingham reading at The Amadeus Project, which provided me the opportunity to meet Jennifer Bullis and Judy Kleinberg. Much more experienced poets than I, they were kind, gracious and encouraging. They made the effort to stay in touch, which resulted in my attending a reading by Jennifer Bullis from her new chapbook “Impossible Lessons” at Village Books in Bellingham. After the reading, a number of us went out for drinks. Sitting next to me was another generous poet, Andrew Shattuck McBride, who suggested I submit some poems to Clover, A Literary Rag.
I now realize finding a tribe you feel connected to in this solitary writing life is crucial. I am still in the beginning stage of my writing journey and I am thankful for the people who have invited me in. Getting a poem published is nice, but meeting people who encourage your need to write and help you on your way, makes the journey so less lonely.
5-John Willson and his poetry group at Strawberry Hill on Bainbridge Island. John and other members of the group provided helpful feedback on ways to improve this poem, in addition to warm tea and cookies.
6- Mary Gillilan for providing a home for this poem in Clover, A Literary Rag, and for her work in providing such a wonderful publication.
7-And to the neurons in my brain that continue to fire when I least expect it.
Finally Becoming Gaia
What happens when you find yourself not yourself?
When stumbling stiff from slumber you spot a spider
ice skating the mirror above your paste and brush
and half-awake imagine glowing rooms of gossamer
waiting for babies yet unborn? So because you
are tired (or so you think) you leave her be
wondering what dream you forgot that allowed this
sharing of space. Then later, when dressing
for the day you find she has moved to the
porcelain sink–and your first thought is not
to put her in a shroud of toilet paper down the
baby Moses river, but instead you imagine
her washing dishes in her own kitchen, and because
you are in a hurry (or so you tell yourself) you let her stay
with all eight arm-legs covered in soap. And later still,
when dusk descends and the light is soft and warm,
you find her retiring in the tub, surprised again
there is no eagerness to stomp her out,
no fear she might decide to bed with you, and in
your calm construct a bed of tissue, in case (like you)
she needs a night of peace.