It was summer, I remember that much. No coat over the back of the chair, my legs bare to the breeze. And though I was in my twenties, I was still young enough to think of “home” as wherever my parents lived.
I sat with my father at Arpeggio’s, our local brick-oven pizza pub. Dad and I don’t get much deep time but we make good use of what we have.
“Why aren’t you writing?” my father asked.
I threw up my hands in twenty-something irritation (which I am still admittedly prone to).
“You want me to write and you want me to have a job with good health insurance. Jobs with good health insurance are boring and then my brain oozes out of my ears and the words don’t come. It’s an either/or proposition,” I declared.
At twenty-something, I wasn’t entirely right… nor was I entirely wrong.
Which brings us to forty-something, going on fifty, fast. Not because the years are racing faster for me than for anyone else, but because my mind has slumped into Serious. I hear it in the cadence of my voice sometimes, the lack of humor, even the sarcasm starched out.
And I see it in my writing, the lack of wordplay and silly.
That twenty-something self was a poet and a wordsmith. She marched into the elementary schools of Harlem twice a week to read iambic pentameter to children who might have woken up in a shelter or started the morning without a bite to eat. She thought it mattered.
This morning, twenty years later, she woke up and realized it did matter then (memories of a timid boy, overweight and awkward, bringing me the poem he wrote after I had read Aunt Leaf by Mary Oliver to his class) and still matters now. The life of the mind, the play of words on a page, they matter.
So she started with S:
Serious and Stupid with menopause brain.
There had to be more:
women have always known:
it takes a village.
Not just to raise a child,
but to find ourselves.
We all need sisterhood,
and sage speak.
our every inhale:
the green world’s exhale.
We live, stretched and shining,
between Earth and Sky.
Don’t worry if you’ve lost it,
if you are sick and tired
(or sick and tired of being sick and tired);
it is still there to be found.
I did, I have, and I will…
Over and over.
We just need
to remember to return.
You are a Sacred Sister.
High art poetry? No.
The beginnings of an escape from the cages of self-perception? Yes.
I started with S.