In Place of Poetry

I have a feeling inside me that is like a poem for Viva, but under pressure it is difficult to communicate in verse. In preparation for tomorrow night’s poetry reading, featuring Mendy Knott, I had hoped to coax a few stanzas out to honor my mysterious, elegant friendship with Viva.

I consider the idea of a poem for several weeks beforehand. Two days before the reading I put a few lines down on paper. This morning, I re-read the narrative work I have written about Viva. But by nightfall, still no poem will come.

I even start a Word document, “Poem for Viva.” I fill it with 190 words (and counting), none of which capture her sparkle in a way that I am happy with. Is it that I have already written what needs saying? Is it that she still stirs in me, and is therefore difficult to pin down on paper?

Just yesterday an email arrived in my inbox: “Hi from California.” I knew immediately it was her. I have not written back yet because I feel a need to connect with a more honest approach to the friendship. While writing about Viva has been wonderful, I feel the pull of the storyline is too tempting. I have kept my promise not to sell out in my writing about others, but writing about Viva has shown me that in order to say what I want, sometimes I have to narrow the perspective so finely that I wonder how true I am actually being to my subject matter. The truth is, actually, that I am only being true to myself – which on occasion means seeing in tunnel vision and finding the prose within that.

When I think of what I might say, besides “Why didn’t we ever kiss?,” all I can think of is a line from Belle and Sebastian’s latest album The Life Pursuit, which states:

“If I could have a second skin
I’d probably dress up in you.”

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