As the exhilaration of bringing forth a new book begins to settle, it presents the writer with another empty page. The writing has to being again and the poet, like a child, stares out at a freshly scrubbed world, learning anew, words and meanings, tasting phrases and metaphors, slowly, as if the morning is a foreign language, strange and tempting yet utterly incomprehensible.
I started writing what I had tagged #citypoems in the pre-virus era but only sometime after the debilitating second wave, when I had a stack of pandemic poetry, written in the silence and despair of the endless lockdowns, did I start putting “Duplicity” together. But all that seems like a long time ago.
What happens next? What happens on the morning-after-the-month-after-the-book? Today, I sat at my table for a long time. There are thoughts, there are mandates, there is an unbidden force like running through a field that has no end. But I could write nothing. Instead, I read poetry on Instagram, hours of it. Will books give way to “insta-poetry”? Will poetry give way to “posts”? Will poets give way to “influencers”?
What curled around my synapses like an early mist, was a flash fiction piece, that might never be converted to actual words. Something real, current, sharp, acidic, brutal. As if the dream-like hold of poetry was loosening around my wrist. As if there is no more, not a verse, not a line, not a single metaphor left. As if that field fell away and the path turned rocky, slitting skin, the hot ocean air stinging my feet. The zillion parts of the universe roaring in unison. The universe itself slapping against a shore I could not see.
There are journeys, transformational journeys, in which the writer is both the starting point and the destination, both the traveller and the road travelled, both the runner and the field.
Both the empty page and the poem.