When applying for a poetry residency in a Scottish castle recently (yes please!), I read an interesting review from a novelist who had previously visited.
In it, she described a night when a bat unexpectedly flew in the window, flapped around the room, then left via the same exit; it left the bewildered dinner guests in awe. By morning, the 3 poets in the party had all produced a poem on the experience.
That’s when the fiction writer knew she was jealous of poets.
As opposed to novelists, who must always be thinking of the future and alternate worlds (what comes next, the cohesive story, the plot and characters), poets are required to only be present with what is real, and what is theirs. Poetry transcends time and place.
When writing poetry about the past, we can only write how we feel about it in the present moment.
When thinking of the future, only our immediate visions and emotions can come out poetically.
When reading poetry, we are transported to our own past experiences, bringing us sharply into our current emotional body.
In short, poetry is super-presence.
In light of this, and in honour of World Poetry Day, I share the below poem, full of the sharp super presence that pain and love brings.
Write, I Must
What is left to me but to write?
About these grey and gorging
depths; so hollowed, hard
they feel like heights.
I can only make for you
solid shapes of my heart-shrapnel—
that vital organ, lovingly smashed and split;
opened beyond all closing.
What is left but to tell you
how he remains for me a
love-drenched gift in tragic’s clothing—
in distance and nearness, both?
My muse is wild and wearied
A crack, long lay in his little boy heart
And try as I might to patch it
(like a loving kintsukuroi)
It clings desperately to its tarred black gape.
So write, and write, and write I must.
Or succumb, sickly,
to a resigned death of soul and
joining the garden statues in their
impotent, voiceless grief
and weak, waterless tears.
My pen keeps mine wet and want-laden.
And so I’ve learned, this fateful day
what many have known before;
To write is to live, and to love.
Author: Crystal Davis
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Unsplash.com with permission