He was a freckle-faced red-headed no-name of Freshman Algebra who brought to me a volume of his own penmanship, a sort of extension to his friendship. As we grew into good buddies, I continued to read his words, though lacking brilliance and tinged of juvenile acquaintance (the norm of our everyday). I could tell the collection of confessional limericks meant something to him, and so my own self-written words began to mean something to me as well.
Years later, having written and hoarded thousands of poems that probably totaled nothing more than the rambling adolescent rants of a lost girl, I found Sylvia Plath's Ariel among the slim collection of poetry at the public library. Ariel taught me that poetry wasn't merely a novelty, a past-time to burn the boredom of a clock. It taught me that the written world could be fiery, red, an incantation that tickles your brain. In that moment, I suppose, the spell was cast.
Words, for me, became a multi-faceted enigma of late night confessions in the collected works of Anne Sexton. I found tidbits of my own existential existence in the raging fires and subtle parallels of Charles Bukowski. Judy Grahn invited me into the heart of my own body, the ability to inhabit my sexuality and strength enough to hug the void of my eccentricities. And when I read the words of Jack Kerouac I felt I was touching the human spirit with my own hands. The world had really become a proverbial oyster. From the gritty truth of Allen Ginsberg that stung my eyes as much as my ego, to the scar-worn heart of Pablo Neruda, my kindred equal whom shared the same stars with me so many decades after one another.
It was during my first four years of college that I became enamored with words, juxtapositions, the metaphors of my action verbs, the smell of a new pen. Poetry opened my world in the way a bud blooms into rose, the origination of one seed into a thousand branching leaves. Over the years I have devoured books and poetry and words, consumed them just as importantly as the body matabolizes food. I have filled twenty journals and too many dog-eared notebooks to count, pieces of my life that still visit me for an occasional teaching.
Poetry has been the friend I confided in, the religion that has saved me unlike any other God. Books have become old friends, and I can't begin to tell you how many separate lives I've lived. Words have comforted me in trying times, writing has become a showcase of my life, the most less-difficult way for me to confer. And in a lot of ways, the written word has given me the reasons I need to keep on being as I am, and the life lessons on conforming when I should, the reality that everyday awake is a gift and another chance to create.
Writing has allowed me the happiness and bravery to inhabit my own existence. Poetry allows me the remembrance of anything that's ever meant anything to me. All the little pieces of being alive that usually fall through the cracks of memory, important and irreplacable moments we lose to time. And I feel there's something unforgettable to be said about that.
Written for a prompt at Real Toads.