Like a heart

Like painting with colors no one can see. Like writing a poem with one word. Like remembering a celebratory dinner only by the brilliant smiles around the table. That’s what a true heart truly likes.

I started a new job as copywriter in a medical communications company this week, which prompted one of my poetry fans to respond “revert back.” So let me reassure—there’s nothing to worry about—I haven’t metamorphosed into anything more or less than what I’ve always been. It’s just that this is what a deeper integration of self looks like on me.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

Joy Harjo, from “Perhaps the World Ends Here”

What’s changed is that I’m taking all that I’ve learned and all the ways I’ve grown during these sweet, bohemian adjunct/freelance days and I’m bringing it to work full-time. What hasn’t changed is my committed engagement through poetry, though it will happen differently now. Creative and compassionate people flock together to make change.

Poetry itself has sent me real support during this first week at the new job, which happily coincided with “At Home with Poems,” a week-long program by the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. Each morning, I woke up anxious, but reassured by the thought of the day’s email with poetry activities that would have already arrived in my inbox.

If you want to be seen as yourself, that

might not happen.

If you wanted the prize, the explosion,

the magnificence—

from “West Texas Love Poem”

I don’t know who wrote this poem yet. The program will send us the poets’ names tomorrow.* Their idea was to invite us to experience the poems without identifying information — a chance to dive deep.

One of the activities was to write a cento by borrowing from the poems in the week’s poem packet. Here’s mine. I added one or two words of my own. A poem is like a heart, carried lightly, which always traverses new territory as passenger, driver, and map all at once.


to be loved
off into the green

in which to shine
come what may
winding the fabric

the black cloth like a spirit caught
to collect flakes of light—-


taste how sweet and tart it is
to be love

*Here’s the poet’s name (Jan Beatty), the full poem (below), and the link to the Dodge Poetry Festival packet with the poems including bylines.

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