I can count the friends I have on one hand. One of them I already mentioned here when I wrote earlier in the week about feeling unable to share my blog with those closest to me. Actually, as the weekend rises before us, I’d like to say thank you for the reaction that that post received and for the comments, insightful thoughts and opinions that make this space so worthwhile maintaining.
A second friend once sent me the link to the poem that I will post below. It captured what I feel life can be so much like sometimes. We can feel as if we simply aren’t ready for it, have never been ready and as if – just like Wislawa Szymborska writes – we have been pushed out on stage without having the time to read over our lines, often living in the past wishing we could go over a day or a week again.
It is a wonderful little poem and through this particular friend I discovered once more that there is a joy in reading poetry. Having studied English literature I had come to connect poetry with the intellectual world, with studying and dissecting, with an end goal in mind rather than for the simple joy of reading itself.
Poetry is an odd thing. I posted on Monday one of my own poems and wrote quite rightly that I often feel locked out of poetry. I still don’t know if poetry is something that you have to understand in order to appreciate but I do think it helps. My mum, for example, refuses to read a lot of poetry because she considers it “above” her. Poetry like some literature can come across as if it has an intellectual price-tag and that fact, rather than the poems themselves, has often turned me off.
Put simply I think the best poems I have read are the ones that make me aware of something I had never been able to name or express before then. I often get a squirming feeling of discomfort when I read someone who has so accurately placed my own emotional state before my eyes.
This is one of those poems.
Life While -You – Wait
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.
I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it’s mine. I can’t exchange it.
I have to guess on the spot
just what this play’s all about.
Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can’t conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.
Words and impulses you can’t take back,
stars you’ll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run —
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.
If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage).
You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I’ve done.
Happy Friday and weekend to you all. I’ll be back on Monday and I look forward to it. It has, for me at least, been a very good week.
Let me know what you think of the poem.