My friend in the panhandle sent me a box and now it’s a shrine on my bookshelf. It wasn’t just any box, but a box filled with connections and thoughtfulness that only a true friend would feel led to send. Opening the box on the patio was one of those moments where you feel that the universe is conspiring gently and very clearly, on your behalf. In it was a light catcher with the word, “play” etched in one of the silver pieces, and three books: The Artist’s Way, Writing Down the Bones, and Do It! (subtitled quite comically, Let’s Get Off Our Butts).
I went to the nearest coffee house with an outdoor patio and sloshed around in the words. I had read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones before moving to Spain a few years ago, but her admonishments struck me differently this time. I’m not as interested in being appropriate and successful as I once was, so the encouragement to write anything, “even garbage” was a welcome invitation. I wanted to move into her words themselves, take up residence with them, and linger there all evening. I said a soft thank you to my friend, Mindy, and the raw writing of Natalie Goldberg, each of which confirmed what I have known is true for so, so long: Your true nature wants to come out. It’s been knocking for a long, long time.
AJ empties himself into the drum
while I sit, alone and tiny
on the maroon couch,
a distant, frontal position
so that he can see me and I him.
But not too closely.
In every moment, even a fresh one like
this, I’m wedded to strategy.
The guitarist opens his mouth to
“Just the Two of Us,” and lifts his chin
above the microphone,
eyes squinting, forehead creased,
reaching up for the note he
imagines he wants.
Two friends on that little stage
and me, tiny on the couch.
Hoping for some way
to lower myself into drums,
to go screeching my way into light.