and other metaphors
If only I’d known, when I started, that change is turbulent even to those merely watching it occur,
If only I’d known, when I laid promise to ‘paper’, that the essence of any art is its unrelenting wrench, its claim to what you did not know you had,
If only I’d known, when I began without a home or even a niche, that the allure of what I couldn’t do would haunt me as thoroughly as the satiation of things I could already do, that humor and poetry would swing like lint on the baby hairs of my prose,
If only I’d known, when I wrote in the only voice I had, that my nakedness would be my undoing, my sneaking torment, my utter balm, my solace,
If only I’d known, when my brain emptied at the mere mention of a laptop, that writer’s block is like disease, where only you will ever truly know the range of vomit inducing awful it accrues,
If only I’d known, when I knew I wouldn’t let myself miss a day, that failure would find a loophole; it always does, with doubt and drain in its back pocket,
I might not have discovered that change is like learning in that there is no way to emotionally prepare for either; change is learning in that once it’s happened, we are more, more clear, more filled, more emptied, more careful, more exuberant; more.
I might not have discovered that the devastating amount I pull from myself when I’ve decided I care, is devastating only in its stark un-necessity, in my unabashed and persistent choice to carve my insides so that I may invest a certain way.
I might not have discovered that what I thought was fractured in my thoughts and my soul, was me at my most cohesive, me at the feet of comedy when I wanted to laugh, me under the still dead weight of my breath when the somber overtook my brow, without reservation and without factoring the shiny facets of jewels not my own, me, choosing clarity in my intent because sometimes the work is squarely in the delivery.
I might not have discovered that the sort of poetry that grows weedy in my lungs is less a writing genre and more a hacking-grating need, a cough that never clears.
I might not have discovered how I loved the attack of a new idea, the easy roll of a perfect sentence, even as both slipped gleefully from my mind into the fibery void of my cheesecloth memory.
I might not have discovered the embrace in my schedule for quiet summer evenings with a laptop and sangria, wind teasing through an open window as I realized every line I’d typed was seventeen failures taped together by woeful semicolons and a wad of dog fur.
I might not have discovered that even my choices had choices, and some of them ignored my screams, as they looked over their shoulders at my forlorn intent, while they led me to chucklefuck my way into a haiku spiral about yarn.
Now I know that art is skill no matter where it lives; it is time and tears and fumes and laughing creases, striving without whim, ignoring whim’s petulance, and, ruefully, letting whim roam without a leash.
Now I know that the beauty of any jewel depends on the light that surrounds it and if there isn’t any light, the facets still exist, raw and harsh against the weakness of our sight, the same planes with or without their superfluous illumination.
Now I know that my devastating care is also my salvation, my desperate strength and grief-stricken hope, my unruly demand and my gentle ask; my chosen necessity.
Now I know that the call to write all of me, humor and prose and rage and rhyme, cascading humanity and simmering thought, is tempered only by the ask of the purpose, the limits of my vessel, and the aptness of my investment.
Now I know that I enjoy the angst of a poorly wrought phrase, because the process of molding it to fit the exact contour of its origin is where my joy lives, and I can’t love one room in a house without acknowledging the stairs and the halls and the doors that led me there.
Now I know that a skill better understood will leave no one behind; it will come for my other skills and wrap them in insight and kiss them with growth, and leave me gazing fondly at their imperfections.
Now I know that I have met my challenge, but not my end; I have added hours to my day, immortal moments to my life, and an entire community to my heart.
I started with a post, and am leaving with village, niche, and home. I now travel with a city in my soul, fed words like currency made of care.