Ten minutes gluing last year’s calendar image of—I believe--Marinot’s “girl reading in a garden” (the deliciously plump lass in dark teal skirt, lost to the book in her lap, wearing on her head a pale green garland, a gold tipped sleeve snug on the wrist she’s leaned against her cheek)…to the folder I’ve chosen to house the two poems I’ll be reading during the open mic portion at Skyline College’s Women on Writing conference tomorrow.
I’m in my cabin, having spent at least an hour looking for last year’s driving directions to WOW, which by now, even on our slow modem, I could have googled, downloaded, and printed, or…just left to my writing accomplice for tomorrow’s adventure, the lovely Liz Brennan, instead of sorting through the stacks of manila folders and the rollout shelf under my desk with its drawings by the kids, business card for Scene Clean (advertising clean up of homicide, death, filth, hoarding someone randomly handed me at a party), back issues of The London Review, a sweating mini candy-cane still in its wrapper, and a volume of Immortal Poems of the English Language that still smells like the Illinois farmhouse bookshelf it occupied when I was 8.
Can’t help cracking Immortal Poems; I’m right back in time, peering at those faint oval black and white photos and bad artist renderings of Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Yeats and Hopkins, mistaking Dryden and Shelley for women and E. B. Browning for a man, searching for the women. Phew, they exist…. Christina Rosetti, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Elinor Wylie and Emily D—5 out of 56. Such math didn’t occur to me as a kid, but I do remember peering pretty intently at each of those women’s faces. I see that someone has scratched out the Smart under Christopher Smart, and penned in Dumbie, but honest…it isn’t my writing. My grandmother? Little brother? One of the ex’s?
Chalk up another half hour to re-reading poems…how can I not: Because I could not stop for Death, Ode to a Knightingale, Fern Hill, Moore’s Poetry, Dover Beach. Which does nothing for my confidence choosing worthy poems of my own to read aloud, but I think, if, before getting to the blank page on my desk for today’s raw writing, I sneak up to the main house for a warm-up on my cup of coffee, where I will likely encounter my three year old and possibly my husband who by now would like the computer back, I think I’ll be able to muster the day’s work…and possibly the wherewithal to call Scene Clean to tackle my desk so I have somewhere to plunk my elbows.