A LOVE POEM FOR YOU … AND YOU … AND YOU …
Little pumpkins scatter in the backyard, and pumpkin-colored blossoms form big, palmy fronds, a giant’s hands face-up to the sky. Two fat squirrels play tag in the compost, and I hear my host speak to them like a baby. Or maybe he has a baby; I don’t see either, but a janky Little Tykes playhouse leans against the fence. // A spindly starburst tree grows from a square pot, slim arms of an asterisks fireworking the air. I don’t know what any of these growing things are called, but Ross would, and Aimee. I want to tell you about all this, but I’m glad you’re not here. // I learned that this makes me a bad partner, but my lamb kebob was 18% more delicious because I dined alone; and the cab, 11% sweeter. // They say when you speak in public, to find a set of eyes to speak to. I try to remember this when I public speak but never expected to be the eyes in the audience for anyone else. A professor and poet accustomed to speeches surely keeps no butterflies jitterbugging in his belly, but his eyes find mine, anyway, as he speaks to a sold-out crowd, standing room only, and me, in row three. // I don’t go for that woo-woo tarot card shit, despite the Moon on my necklace; so maybe it’s just that, that morning in bed, we snuggled together while I finished him off, his book I mean, his love letters to his mother, his body, his garden, a janky basketball hoop. I pressed my face into his pages, I so love the smell. My dad’s a retired inkman and could tell me what I smell–the chemical names and formula, the initials and subscripts of a perfume I’d wear to seduce and inspire, which are, I think, perhaps, one and the same. // And anyway, that’s all I want to do, is to seduce and inspire you, and to be found pretty and smart. Not in that order, but the days have been so lazy, and I didn’t bring an eraser. No takebacks or changes. // Sandra said a sober man’s thoughts become a drunk man’s words, so let’s drink too much tonight and say what we really think.
title inspired by Janet Jackson’s excellent cover of “Tonight’s the Night,” which she turns into a threesome love story, just perfect for a piece where the you is someone different virtually every time (she whispers it at the very beginning–if your audio’s too soft, you’ll miss it)
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I wrote this hybrid piece in Bloomington, Indiana, where I attended a reading by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, with Ross Gay. I read their books of essays–World of Wonders and The Book of Delights, respectively–together, and I discovered the reading at Indiana University like two days later, which was too much serendipity to ignore. Thus, a relatively impromptu two-day visit to Bloomington where I stayed in this adorable studio Airbnb a half mile from a bike trail.
I had big plans to do some good writing there, or at least some good editing, but it’s been a tough few months, so I decided instead to stay in bed too long, to read too much, to walk the right amount, to shower too long, to eat the right amount.
I admire the writers who write every day. I’ve never been one of those. I understand the push for it, especially if you require the discipline to be productive. I don’t. A big thanks to years in daily journalism for that; I trust my productivity, and I value the writing days off. Especially when they’re the sort of prescriptive self-care my body and brain so desperately need these days.
Creativity when you’re in a terrible headspace is hard. Rather, forcing yourself to just do it is hard. So I didn’t work on my work in progress. I didn’t work on some new edits to the book my agent is shopping around. But I did write the hybrid piece above, a sort of lyrical essay thing that doesn’t quiet want to be categorized, which is OK. There’s something good, very good, to be said for just going with it, sometimes.
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