Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
I've planned to be a writer since fourth grade. I didn't realize then that I'd be a writer in so many different ways and that being a writer is not so much (for me anyway) about earning a living. Instead, writing and being a writer is connecting to my authentic self and the wide, wide world.
I have many writing selves. I have the writing self that worked with Janet Allen for more than a decade to write curriculum and write professional development and write reflections from inside of the classroom that she included in her own writing. We were literally and figuratively, On the Same Page.
I have the writing self that wrote Reading Amplified, a transmedia book for teachers, and I have the writing self who teaches full time and writes about her practice. Sometimes that writer, writes poetry.
I am confident about many of my writing selves, but my inner poet is shy.
That writing or creating self is not so confidant. In fact, sometimes she is annoyingly insecure. Sometimes, she hides behind the clothes in closets like the one in the upper left corner of this morning's literacy quadrant work. Today was my sixth day as a participant in the writing institute at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
I drew several of my writing selves in this morning's work, but I am going to step out as the poet while I am surrounded by support and encouragement of this writing table, this community of artists.
I need your help too with this poem.
We are working on presentation pieces for our final day of this two-week institute--and though it can be a work in progress, I want to squeeze another draft out of what I have so far. I have been working on a series of tables. I've been photographing tables for many months. Some of the tables I'm seeing here, I've curated on twitter with the #table hashtag (search #table +spillarke on Twitter if you want to see them). I've written a poem that weaves in things participants (artists and writers) have shared.
In terms of this draft, I'm not sure about my image strings, line breaks or my ending. If you have a few minutes, I would appreciate feedback. Tell me what you think.
To the Table
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
Bring it all to the table,
bring your bags,
plastic bags or rectangled recycle bags,
canvas Totes or Vera Bradley,
bring everything you carry
pens, pencils, paper, journals,
joy at the news he’s coming home
happy bubbles when babies
like new ideas are born
The table can sit in shadow,
reclining in a hidden corner
the paint-splattered utility topped slab
can bear the weight
of the black pit, the weight
of the heavy executioner’s hood
the … wait.
Bring the gun, the pills, the drugs, the alcohol
the modern distractions to the table
Hands up, don’t shoot
Pull the chair in to table’s edge
So often in our hallways, on our sidewalks,
down the wooden-paths, through the woods
around the wilds of this life
we grind the bones of our closet skeletons
to dust and mix them into drinks
quickly gulped to stop the urgent diarrhea
of mind, body, colon.
or we scatter that bone-dust to the winds
on the point of the peninsula where ocean
meets river and pirates sell ice cream from pontoon boats.
Take them instead to the table to be reconciled.
Take the diagnosis your doctor delivered
over the phone as you crossed
the causeway, bridge
Take the dementia of aging parents
and the acne of the middle passage,
take the broken wrists and wrap them like birds’ wings
in gauze and guests’ good wishes for quick healing.
Don’t shove those old bones under the table.
Lay them out. Lay out the wounds
the scraped knees and shattered elbows.
The extra thirty pounds and the pre-diabetes,
the hypertension and the high cholesterol,
the gasping heart attack and the voracious tumor.
Don’t drive them to North Carolina
to hide in cabin in the woods. Don’t sail them
along the intercostal for a sunset finale.
Bring them to the table and invite the guests.
Bring your vigor and health too
your spandex and sports bras,
your green juice and protein shakes,
bring your sneakered feet and Fit Bits
bring your boot camp trainer and Yoga coach.
let them be your guest.
Let the guests gorge on
the heart break of broken crystal,
and poor choices. Let the guests
eat chunks of cheddar off the china shards
abandoned in the empty nest
of a failed marriage.
Make conversation about hooch and hospice,
and health care and the fault in our stars
that would send us so.
Make conversation about the color of
his eyes, and golden hairs curled around the radius
of his wrist. Talk about the seven colors of the sea
at sunrise and bring out all of the mixed-matched
dishes. Dine on the joy of company, roll in the ecstasy of creation.
Use the good napkins and
set each place with slivers of hope.
Two Writing Teachers.
Link up your slice on Two Writing Teachers on Tuesdays. Thanks, Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna and Beth.