It’s a winter poem, written long ago in (I believe) January 2006; nevertheless, it’s been on my mind lately. For one thing, I recently noticed its echoes in both of the poems I have in journals this year. “Sweetheart, I tell you, don’t go looking for real life / anywhere else” says the speaker in “The World Outside My Belly” (in The Mom Egg this spring); “Nirvana is not somewhere else!” shouts the speaker in “Housekeeping” (forthcoming in Rattle this summer). For another thing, despite all my to-do lists and what-have-yous, I’m still struggling to put down the burden I carry in my head — it’s what I was going to write about for today, but that post is going to have to wait for another week. I’m still trying to figure it out. (Why am I surprised? Though I guess I’m not.)
And, too, as I realized while running in Prospect Park yesterday morning: that lush, green time of warm, sunny days that I long for throughout the winter? That time is now. However, as the Critter’s mother, I no longer wish away my days. Not even in January.
* * *
For years I’ve felt that real life was elsewhere,
and sometimes, in the dark margins of the day
between these hours at the office and sleep,
I’ve felt as though elsewhere was as near
as the books on my shelves.
I write down as much as I can
so that I won’t have to carry so much of it in my head,
but still I carry it.
The grocery list:
orange juice, vanilla yogurt, cans of soup;
and my to-do list,
crossed out and written over in three colors of ink.
Today, highs in the thirties,
and colder tomorrow;
and just now, five o’clock on a Tuesday,
the light drains from the sky and into the buildings,
as though captured in thousands of cells.
The sun will rise tomorrow morning at 7:20
and will rise again at 7:20 every morning
until next Wednesday;
and before I know it, the Equinox will arrive,
and the greeny mist of new leaves on the trees;
and so I wish my life away,
this life of early nightfall, heavy coats, and dry skin.
* * *
Where is your “elsewhere”?