I had the privilege yesterday to have a lovely afternoon talking poems, teaching, and life in general with friends and poets Kristin LaTour and Laura Dixon. We talked a lot about making choices: family versus work, work versus creative life, creative life versus family. Cycles. How we can find pieces of each in the other, how we are fruitful in different areas at different times. After both friends left, something was nudging the back of my brain, the thought that I had read a poem of Laura’s that would be appropriately linked to our conversation. And I was right! Her poem “First Verses” from the Innisfree Poetry Journal is a perfect fit:
The earliest written documents
were lists. Dean says we can’t know
if they’re bills of sale or poems,
which begs the question.
My grocery list reads like verse:
eggs, spinach, juice. But so does the sign
at the end of your street: BLIND
CHILD AT PLAY. Beautiful and useful.
I always feared we would have
to choose. Sunrise and sunset
tell lovely lies, which is why
their flat-Earth logic still shines
across poetry’s sky. But don’t we write
lines to seek new light, to clear the air?
To find soft, fertile dirt and plant
there. To order the chaos
in rows. To blink. To think or stop
thinking. To cope with how thoughts run:
When the body’s tired, the mind decides
to rearrange the furniture and hum.
My favorite line in this poem is “Beautiful and useful./I always feared we would have/to choose.” Oh, and we don’t – what a pleasure that is to hear. That we can live with one foot in each of those worlds. I could say more. But I think the poem is clear and lovely and speaks for itself, so I will let you enjoy it in your own way.
If you want to write, you could try writing a poem that incorporates a road sign in an unusual way. Or you could write a poem that tries to “order your chaos”, whatever chaos may mean in your life at this moment. Let Laura’s poem inspire you to rearrange some furniture.