This morning I stumbled from bed at 5 am in search of a book that I must have dreamed about, a collection of essays by V.S. Naipaul called Literary Occasions, which I read more than a decade ago. My conscious mind can’t remember even things I wrote myself, but in my sleep I remember literary criticism and theory from a decade ago, apparently. I found it on the shelf and read this:
Literature, like all living art, is always on the move. It is part of its life that its dominant form should constantly change. No literary form—the Shakespearean play, the epic poem, the Restoration comedy, the essay, the work of history—can continue for very long at the same pitch of inspiration. If every creative talent is always burning itself out, every literary form is always getting to the end of what it can do.
The lines I’d highlighted on that page were in the paragraph above this, but I needed this so much. I thought I’d picked up the book thinking it would give me something to imitate in terms of connective fiber between ideas, but this was way better. Fucking make something up, Seema. Decide what comes next, or better yet, trust what comes next. Our poem is from the American Life in Poetry newsletter, edited by American poet Ted Kooser. We don’t know what’s next, but sometimes we just have to show up and float and trust.
No specific prompt today, dears. Set a timer, show up to the page and record your thoughts. Just listen and trust that the pen will show you what you need to know, what you already know. Much love. And please please please, reach out if you need help. There is always a hand extended. We are here.
Last week I reminded everyone about the Turtle Man, please revisit that. There’s a generosity to asking for help. Really.
Outside in the creek that feeds the lake
and never freezes, an otter slaps the water
with his paw to feel the current’s pulse—
Slip in, lie back. Slip in, lie back. He shuts
his eyes and obeys, knowing the layers
of hair and underfur will warm him while
he floats on a faith we wish could carry us.
The sound of his splashing fades, but not
his joy in being pushed, light as driftwood,
back to the mouth of the den I have seen
carved out beneath the roots of a fallen fir
now packed with snow and lined with leaves
that promise his sleep will be deep.
Because no dreams wait softly for me,
I open the woodstove and strike a match,
hold the bloom of the flame to kindling
that catches quick as my wish: To be that
slick body sliding into the lake that holds
the moon, bright portal to glide through
without so much as a shiver, no doubt
about where I’m going, how to get there.