A poem to catch a writing breeze

Sharp-shinned hawks, chromolithograph, 1908, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, United States Department of Agriculture Yearbook/Wikimedia CommonsBy Laura Grimes

I’ve been blog quiet much too long. I can’t explain these things, but just accept them. My writer brain has languished. I’ve seen glimpses of it, fragments, but capturing a cohesive sense has been a struggle.

For me, poetry often serves as a toddling way back to recovery, a voice for the broken. Not broken as in destroyed, or sad, though sometimes that can be the case, too, but in this instance, I consider it more a voice for the misshapen. It’s a bunch of puzzle pieces that need realigning. Again, I don’t question these things, I’m just grateful.

I thought I lost my poetry touch a few years ago. I never realized it was leaving, it just wasn’t there anymore and it took me a while to notice it was gone, but by then it was too late. So I’m surprised now by its sudden return, unannounced and unbidden, like a shadowed figure seeking shelter from a storm who shows up wet on my doorstep smelling of the natural order of things. Irresistible, really. But why?

Some days I’d rather be immersed in the balm of visual creation. I find that type of productivity relaxing and forgiving, meditative and calming. Whereas words have an unflinching exactness that torments me. Exhausts me. They’re insistent like chattering children. And when I give in to them, they can absorb me for hours, distract me in waking moments, and my family wonders where I’ve disappeared to. And then I feel guilty.

But I miss my muse, too. Every day. It’s like laced candy. Something not entirely good for me that I crave. Something best to steer clear of and stay contented.

Why poetry again? Why me? Maybe blame it on the math brain. I can write matter-of-fact straight-forward accounts all day long, but uninterrupted delving time for longer think pieces is more elusive. So poetry, like puzzles, I can leave and pick up again. I can jot a bunch of snippets and come back anytime to connect the dots, rearrange, ruthlessly pare until I get just the right rigorous-shaped nubs. Essences. Whispers.

Poetry is that in-between non-language. Challenging but not daunting (for me). It’s like painting in layers or tinkering with an engine (neither of which I’m any good at). When I have no other writing voice, I can take broken words and assemble them until they rev to life.

Here’s a recent toddling word puzzle that I pieced together. I started with a snapshot in my head that I took a few months ago while out in the country. Though what I saw was far in the distance, it was one of those rare lingering moments that caught my breath, dividing before and after so surely it must have been magic.


Two hawks

Wheel the wind

Listless as the break of day
Disinterested but
Seeking motes
While winding

Hidden signal
Synchs pinions
Racing to a point
To a tree

And then

Mystery or
Trick of distance

Land curves
The way a womb
Holds history safe

Hawks hang
Each side of sky
Splintered by
Gnarled oak
As old as life
Reaching up
Reaching down
Big as rain

Limbs splayed
In round

Unseen roots
Naked as nature
That slips the sun

Hawks hang
So overlong
In unchanged blue
It can’t be untrue

They glide like quiet kites
Strings in symmetry
Holding tight
As tame as daylight
As strong as night


ILLUSTRATION: Sharp-shinned hawks, chromolithograph, 1908, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, United States Department of Agriculture Yearbook/Wikimedia Commons