Posted by: jeannineatkins | April 7, 2010

Poems and Empty Space

It’s early afternoon and most of today’s chores are done. I’m sitting on the porch for the second time in 2010, and had to actually roll up my pants. New England might be doing it’s winter to summer, let’s skip spring thing. Past the screens, tiny lilac leaves have sprouted and tulips, yet to bud, have poked through the ground. A glass of iced tea and a small stack of poetry books are by my elbow.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been writing a few essays, doing some interviews about Borrowed Names, and reworking my website, but this afternoon I’m taking a break from looking back to looking out at open space. Today there’s a pale blue sky to hold it. I’ve written, collected, and tried out some lines between pieces of new poems, but this afternoon I don’t want to look back at even those pieces. My plan is to look straight out into the trees at the edge of the lawn and settle into the place where I left off the young woman I’m writing about and take note of my own inner twinges. I’ve got the sense of spring with all its yellow and green loveliness, but also hints of past loss. The astonishingly happy news that a generous donor was located so that my cousin can have a bone narrow transplant within a few weeks, and the still-there wish that this was something he didn’t need. As I scribble on my yellow pad, I may be connecting some of my joy and trepidations to the course my subject is navigating.

And if nothing comes of nothing? I’ll swing up my bare feet and dip into one of these books. One thing I love about poetry, is that sometimes I can read just a bit and then move back into my own work.



  1. While I’m sad that it’s necessary, I’m so happy to hear about that marror donor! I’d classify that as a miracle…
    Also on the good news front: My library just notified me that BORROWED NAMES came in, and I’m first in the queu. Woo hoo, I know what I’ll be reading next. 🙂

  2. 🙂

  3. Melodye, my dear cousin credits the outpouring of love and prayers as what’s helped her husband withstand some grueling treatments, and gives him the courage to face some more. The gift of an anonymous donor who could live anywhere in our world just amazes us. It’s a huge amount of light within a dark situation.
    And I’m happy to think that Borrowed Names will be in your hands soon!

  4. All the best to your cousin–that is good news.
    You’ve brought me to your porch, and I’m sitting there with you in the gentle air…thank you. 🙂

  5. Lorraine! You were just who I was missing! I’ll just dash to the kitchen for more lemon ginger tea and we’re on!

  6. Sounds like a lovely afternoon. Mine started out heading in a similar direction, but the clouds came in and brought rain, so I moved indoors and took care of business.

  7. Great news about the marrow donor!
    This post makes me feel good, no, it makes me feel good about being a writer because that’s what you’ve done, shown us that perfectly writerly pov from a single day.
    I am starting to think about essays but have never written any before so perhaps I can pick your brain one of these days?

  8. I love that writing allows us to simply “be” for a bit — if we allow ourselves to just be — and return to the story or poem afterward, rejuvenated. Sometimes those moments of quiet are all that we need. Sending good thoughts for your cousin. Hope your Easter celebration this weekend is a delight.

  9. I also always feel that pang of sadness when spring comes. It’s that opening up, after we’ve been closed and guarded for winter. Glad to hear about your cousin and about the opening of the views and the greenery.

  10. It sounds like you’ve been hitting a great balance these days. Yay!

  11. Of course it would be a delight to chat with you online or over the phone about essays whenever you like. Blogging is a nice way to come out and think about the process every now and then, but it’s also fun to do it at a bit more length.
    Susan, you are spreading such courage through this month. Thank you!!

  12. Yes, it’s amazing how much some silence can give us. And amazing, in a flip-side way, how easy it is to forget that. Thank you for your good wishes for our family. Some familyish friends are bringing brownies, so chocolate is covered: I love a good excuse to make lemon pound cake!

  13. I never associated that pang with spring, but it’s an interesting way to view it. Crazy April. Yesterday shorts and flipflops and the porch. Today it’s socks and fleece and a red candle indoors.

  14. Thank you, Jeannine. I like the thought that I might be helping others find some courage of their own.
    And I will totally take you up on the offer to chat on the phone about essays and other joys someday soon.

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