When my Jennifer started the first-grade, I didn't use those days to keep house. Maybe a few minutes of dishes and of throwing dirty clothes into the washer, but nothing very serious. What I did was write poems all day, until it was time to pick her up from school, around 2:30 in the afternoon. It was hard for me to write in short snatches of time. I had to go on a poetry dig. Sometimes, I would write as many as 10 poems a day. Maybe, maybe by that last poem, I'd have something. I had to write out all the trash before I could get to whatever it was my unconscious was pursuing. By the next day, or sometimes, in the middle of the night, the treasure would come to me, and I couldn't resist getting up, at 12 a.m. or 4 a.m. to write it down. That experience was pure joy. Climbing back into bed, with the feeling I had created something, or found the creation that had been lying in wait, in my unconscious all along--nothing in my life has equalled that sense of accomplishment. After I got Jennifer off to school the next morning, I would be back at my desk again, no deadlines, just me, discovering what was inside, what had been inside forever, and I was just beginning to learn how to create my new self on paper. It was one of the most exciting and satisfying times of my life.
Now is very different. Not just because so much time has passed, and Jennifer is almost thirty-five. Between that time and now, I had to return to the work in the "real world" when I divorced in 1990--and what a shock to my non-chronos self it was to hear bells (very real ones!) every 50 minutes during the day, and to feel all the energy going out, rather than in. It was years and years before I could write in Creative Writing while my students wrote. I so needed that "simmering" time for digging through the ideas, the trash, the untruths, the tricks to finally see the glimmer that made my heart pound because I knew it was something real, another piece of the puzzle to the re-creation of myself, or a bit of mystery for me to revel in. When I did write with my students, I rarely came up with anything more than skeletal ideas, though I did flesh out a few (pun intended), some years later. Occasionally, the rare insight would turn into something solid and keepable. My primary focus as a teacher, however, was on the writing of my students. Week-ends were for reading their writing, spending time with my daughter, and soaking my introvert feet to prepare for the next week of pretending to be an extrovert. (I got pretty good at it!)
Since early retirement and writing at home for a local rag, which I truly enjoy, and editing other people's work, and editing a book I hope to publish for a woman in a nearby community, I find it even more difficult to simmer. I see with the same poet eyes, all the time; but those long, luxurious times of going down, down, down, like deep-sea diving, knowing I had plenty of oxygen, and could explore the floor of the ocean, keeping what I wanted, letting go what I didn't, being taken by surprise at what I found behind a bed of coral, or terrified, and at the end of the day, having my little treasures of lines or words, and sometimes, whole poems, in-hand as I broke the surface--those times I was in the middle of my poet self--or just the self. I miss those days very much. Instead of one poem leading into another, I rarely have time to look for the first one. Poems now come by inspiration alone--not that inspiration is bad! It's this feeling that I've lost something, like my brain has been emptied, with fatigue, deadlines, necessities of life. Above all, I am a poet, and I want to be one again.
Causes Bonnie Roberts Supports
The Southern Poverty Law Center, The National Resource Defense Council, The ACLU, Doctors without Borders, Save Darfur