What Does It Mean To Write
We reach, at first, slowly moving fingers,
Plays poetry and prose
Pieces shared, never shared,
Confined in close drawers
Combined with music and movement
Every morning we write,
With sun rising rays radiating into late evenings
Must be silence still and yellow darkness
whenever it comes we write,
Raining days, middle march mornings, weary afternoons,
Hot August evenings, in brass beds,
On wobbling kitchen tables
On desks of dark mahogany, in loud bright buses
At dusk, in musty country libraries,
On the edge of city bathtubs,
On napkins in hospital cafeterias,
On snowy nights in Vermont villages,
On assembly lines
With a knife
We write, all the precious time,
Not at all.
And nothing comes
Forth from our fingertips.
We are shut underneath a trapped door.
Or just gone.
Somewhere where the self is no more.
And I’ve come from Lydia,
Lydia Lydia, O Lydia,
Away from five years of rural living
Knowing one other woman who wrote.
Lydia, Lydia, who wrote highly structured poetry
And obscure short stories
About an enormous woman who got stuck in chairs
always humiliated, Lydia,
Her mother her mother her mother was a writer
She remembered sitting
Upon her mother huge cushioned bed
A small child
Listening listening listening to her
Read read read her glistening glistening poetry.
In her memory her mother’s voice like snowflakes
Coming down through a shining light at night.
Her mother died a few years ago growths overnight
All over her smooth once smooth delicate soft skin Growing like parasitic fungi and quickly she died
She died as if in a race and in reaction to some action
Lydia Lydia, O Lydia, in your stories you were stripping yourself down, thin to begin with, slowly unloading a very heavy burden with in your craft.
Yes, I come from Lydia,
I come physically, away, from, Lydia,
But to what to what to what to what do I come,
What does it mean, to write,
What the hell does it mean, to write?
Our stories are of living, it means simply living
All the while setting senses down with words widening
Making marking making marking whole
Telling truths, it means truth,
It means in Nazi concentration camps
They immediately killed
With scraps of their own writing,
For this reason,
It means writing because you write
Could not stop,
It means with attention in-attention taking pencil taking Pen pen pencil in hand
Placing keys under fingers
Paper — white yellow green onionskin cream
It means making tangible for another
A cold shower or sweet, the taste of an orange.
It means listening listening listening to that voice
Those whispers no one else hears
Those shadows no one else sees,
Listening listening listening,
Then, it’s not about having time season reason license
Not a room of one’s own
Not even a space of one’s own
Sometimes just a box with holes for air,
A toilet seat,
A bathroom with a door.
It means being a writer,
Writing through it all,
Or not writing,
But coming back
To this first and forever lover
Who is always
Being a writer means sanding like an intricate sculpture Shaping into words our living our lives it means impact It means having power power over what was before The unnamable, unspeakable.
It means work work work work creating a new a new
A new world, a new universe,
A forest from one seed
An ocean from one river
A continent from one mountain
It means chaos becomes light
It means being a writer
It means simply writing writing writing writing.
What Does It Mean To Write © Susan Lynn Gesmer, Written, early 1981, edited December 2015/November 2017.