This morning, it’s the kind of feeling you get when you look at the garden you tried to grow and see that it’s quite a mess. I mean, it was half-hearted, really. You meant well, but you didn’t give it everything a garden needs to really look like something that was destined for the cover of Lawn & Garden. But is that what you really wanted? To be on the cover? Or did you just want to spend some time outdoors, away from a computer screen or beneath fluorescent lights, hands covered in earth instead of axle grease? What was the thinking behind tearing open a spot of land on the side of the house that sees a lot of sunlight, making rows and dropping in seeds? What were you thinking when you watched for shoots to rise from the earth, hoping to see tender green, when all that arrived was breathless, pale strangers? You brought water and weeded intermittently, as you were rather preoccupied. (At least, not as preoccupied as last year, but that’s a tale meant for some other garden.) So here you are with an ugly tomato and a green pepper that would certainly be finalists for Ugliest Vegetables of the Year. You wash the dirt off the tomato, sprinkle on a little salt, and take a bite of pulpy seeds and firm skin. The land yielded a veggie good enough for you, but not enough to share with anyone else. Was it worth the effort? Does the land speak to you loudly enough to encourage you to try again? Will garden and gardener establish a bond and create (a poem) good enough to share?
This morning, it’s how I feel about what my writing life looks like thus far. I look at the pretty box labeled “Poetry” and know deep down I’ve got no business compiling it and sending it off for review. I feel like a woman at the starting line, waiting for the submission deadline gun to go off knowing I am surrounded by real runners whose heels I am going to study all the way to the finish line, and once I get there I’m going to be drop dead on the line, calling out for my inhaler and a beer, saying “Tell me again why I got into this thing?”
I ask myself, can I create, magically spin a pile of poems that resemble art in time for the deadline? Can a writer “art harder” and win? How dare I even think about opening that earth and dropping in a seed, or stand on the starting line? I’m going to dare because nothing will grow otherwise. Wish me
luck. Wish me Truth. Wish me Authenticity. Wish me Art, muthas!