all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Saturday, October 13, 2007

the walls of this room
























You've been trying to write for days—
artful, delirious prose to lift you to the banks
of a musical river, the sun at the perfect angle
for dappling shadows and pinking cheeks.
You want a peaceful scene to deliver the good news,
some freshly seasonal offering to enlighten and inspire
and that would be wonderful of you, it would.

But you are where you are and the walls
of this room look different. The paint is peeling,
for one, flecking off in little chunks, and there is no
nice way to write about that. You could say something
about the spots on the rug, turn them into lyrics of light,
but come on, you know where they came from. The dog, in his
impatience, had to go somewhere.

You are impatient, too, and you turn to the page
for your relief, but all the lines keep coming up empty,
or full of disaster, the internal combustion of molecules,
and you don't want to write about that. You don't want to admit
that you sat at your desk, chewing your nails, wanting
to claim the house across the street, even with the toddler wailing,
you wanted the baseball revelry happening inside,
the glorious clinking of bottles, cheers wafting up
like chimney smoke, thick with direction and purpose.
You wanted the focus of the man up the street grilling
backyard steaks, or the middle-aged woman chipping away
at her afternoon hike, thighs clenching with gratitude
for the movement, the sheer grace of it.

When you look down, your own thighs are smashed against
your desk's underside. You search, hungrily, for a sweet story,
something full of spectacle and wonder, the epiphany of
found objects, but your mind has emptied mightily of words.

Let go of your handiwork. Its preciousness will not
serve you, will not release you from the stained carpet,
the peeling walls, the wish to fly from your window
into the living room of your neighbor's colicky reality.
The more you lie, the longer you will stay here, imprisoned and impotent.

Do not try to make the grey sound less grey.
Admit you have temporarily lost your rhythm, your
sunny warbling, your easy obedience to beauty.
It will not make you less beautiful to pull your sounds
from elsewhere. Even the ambulance is singing. The metronome
of the dishwasher. How the raccoons pulverize the garbage cans
the night before the truck comes to empty them. This is your
musical river now, your slash of sunlight, your sibilant muse.

Pick her. Take her dancing. Show her the creaking chair,
the missing handle, every square inch of wrongness and upset.
She will not ask to fix this room, to scrub it of mistake,
to swipe at the walls with their paint chips dangling.
She will not pause, aghast, at your mute melancholy.
Instead, she will gaze at this footage with a delight
that will, at first, seem rude and almost cruel. But soon,
you, too, will see your own wreckage as the rich soil it is,
a burying ground from which it is impossible to remain buried,
something of you persistent and vital. And this how you will rise,
once you have put away your paint brushes, your heavy touch,
your myth-making, your romance. This is how you will rise,
strong and clear and ferociously true.

5 comments:

Wenda said...

Oh Maya,

What a way to begin my day: awakened by your strength and clarity and ferocious truth!

I ended yesterday by sending a dozen of my poetry-loving friends a link to your blog. What a treat they have in store for them.

The earliest riser among them has already printed out "don't forget to write" to keep with her morning pages. I could print out your entire blog, but am saving up instead for your book and subscribing for notifications of your postings.

Dianne Janak said...

Now I know its possible. To write beautifully even while blocked. Write about the block and something wonderful comes out. You bring the page alive Maya... the page is moving its so alive! I hear you... Dianne

Anonymous said...

gosh girl. you frickin rock and amaze me.
jen gray

Anonymous said...

well Maya, of all I have read of your stuff, this piece is my current favorite. it's just beautiful.

yay for your insistence of honoring your gifts...

kim

Marilyn said...

Maya, LOVE this! As one of your other commenters said, you create such beauty from writing about even writer's block. Just...beautiful.