It’s always astounding to me, when I set myself the task of writing a poem a day for a month, and then each day becomes marked by a poem, how quickly the month seems to pass. Thirty poems seems like a lot of poems. Thirty days seems like a lot of days. It’s not. You’d think we’d be used to this, that whole time-passing thing. It’s been more than a year since our lock-down began. I went 105 days without alcohol. I was counting those days, not because I couldn’t wait for the abstinence to be over, but because I wanted to see how many days I could go. 105 days went by pretty quickly. A full year of distance learning, of teaching remotely from my home computer, from April 2020 to April 2021–that happened. That, however, did not go by quickly. This, perhaps, has felt like the longest school year in my long career. Maybe it’s that you have to be counting, and in small increments, to experience time as accelerated. My two most favorite unfinished reading projects are both about time. I was not able to finish Proust or Mann’s The Magic Mountain. I don’t know what this means. Perhaps I’m grasping at straws. I liked today’s final suggestion from the Napowrimo website, but it feels slight somehow, not suitable as a concluding poem–as if, for some reason, I feel like the last poem of the month should be somehow a kind of pinnacle, some kind of stirring, epic, grand, final gesture. That’s a set-up for failure. William Stafford’s advice about writing has stuck with me more, I think, than any other piece of advice I have ever heard or read from another writer. When you are stuck, when the going gets tough, “lower your standards.”
Thanks for joining me on this journey. I so much appreciate those of you who have visited a bunch of times, sharing some comments here or there and “liking” the work. It’s sustaining. It’s very gratifying. I wish I could be as generous to you all as you have been to me. Time to visit the work of my Napowrimo brothers and sisters is always limited in my situation during this most critical time of the school year, the home stretch, as it were, and especially in this year of our plague, 2021. Cheers. Congratulations. May we meet again in better circumstances. Here are the directions to my house.
Poem on April 30
Just follow the signs.
You can’t miss it.
It’s just right around the corner.
Well, right around several corners,
the penultimate corner of which
will, after one more corner,
bring you practically to my doorstep.
It’s almost nothing but left turns
with a right turn just in time
so that you’re not traveling
in circles. Yeah, if you think
of it like that, a series of
near circles, or squares really,
with a right turn after
every two lefts–that’s the idea.
Look for the tree, the one
all by itself on the curbside,
standing, as if on guard,
against what appears to be
a whole forest of giant oaks,
which leaved today, by the way.
I swear, I’ve been watching,
like I do every year: one day,
bare trees, the next, leaves.
So look for the green in the canopy.
The dogs will bark but they don’t bite.
We have a roundabout driveway
that moves round about the house.
We hope you will feel welcome here,
but our doorbell is out of commission
so you’ll have to use the knocker.