“It had started to worry me that if I wasn’t careful my meekness could become a habit, a tic, something hardwired that my mannerisms would continue to express throughout my life regardless of my efforts – the way a drunk who, though in the wagon, still staggers and slurs like a drunk.” — Lorrie Moore
And it was then, seven months pregnant, writing poems about never writing again, that I decided to do something about it. You see, I had been a poet for years, because poetry is the big gorgeous hairdo we all wear to detract from the stain on our dress. And it is here that I hope to no longer be meek. I hope to take a snippet of those writers, authors, poets, whatever-you-want-to-call-yourselves and insert you into every part of my life.
Here, I will say that I wish to begin with the last poem I wrote in seriousness, the seven months pregnant poem, the last poem I figured I would ever write:
What Do I Teach My Daughter About Poetry?
by Heather Bell
That it was violent? That it was a noose? That at seven
months pregnant with her, I had given it up because I was
so terrified of that change in the wind that always comes
with a new poem? Perhaps that poetry is a river
or air or that if you count through the rumbling
it will get further and further away (but always
returning when you wish to just put your feet down
for once, on the beach). And it is then that I
start nesting, as they say: pans must be organized,
no bleach on the bottom shelves, and all books of poetry
locked up. The final step: to know I will never speak
of my years as a poet, because those words were so
dangerous, it seems now. That it is enough to see her
child’s mouth open for the first time in June,
hear nothing come out, as it is with such a surprisingly
sharp intake of air, so sudden and shocking.
And then the wail.
I have a few photographs I would like to show you. I have a few recipes. I have a chunk of time spent in college, in publishing, at the hospital, and mostly, I have years of telling people I was anything other than what I was. Perhaps the secret to all of this isn’t that everything is related to writing in some grand and beautiful way, it’s that everything is related to something else more beautiful, even the really bad stuff.
So suck it up, rip off your wig, and here we go.