Until I turned 38, writing was an untapped secondary talent. I had been a typesetter and formatted a few novels, I had been a sales clerk in a men’s store, and I had been an electronics tech in the US Navy.
I was a poet and had been writing poetry since I was nine years old. It was more in the style of Robert Frost. So I was still an apprentice of poetry when I decided to finish my degree. After the first two classes at University of Maryland University College–European division (yes, they called it UMUC for short or running amok was the students’ favorite saying), I realized that I had a talent for organizing words on the page. I was writing two papers a semester for English literature and one paper for German History which helped me to finally became confident with my writing. While I was there, I published a lot of poetry and had my first short story published in Bibliophilos.
In these years I began studying different forms of poetry. I tried my hand at sonnets, haiku, villanelles, and other styles. I would read poetry from poets like Auden, Basho, and others. I would study what they did and how they phrased their ideas.
Then my style began to emerge. I learned to take the word “me” out of the poetry. I learned that when I was observing something and describing it, that I didn’t have to moralize. The reader would see what I had to say. or not. Sometimes they saw more than I did and sometimes less. It didn’t matter because when I wrote, my main goal was to evoke a feeling.
Then I became ill and my entire world changed.
When I wrote this poem, I was in a hospital bed and couldn’t move. My husband wrote it down for me as I dictated it to him. Even when I thought I was near the end, I was writing poetry. This is the poem.
Your tears well
down granite cheeks—
splash the curve
of your neck.
My tongue licks
the holy elixir.
Corn silk sprouts
at my feet.
I came back to a second life. It was a life where I had to fight for every memory and the ability to think. From 2003 to 2009, I wrote little sentences and paragraphs. I wrote for Helium, a now dead online magazine. I started small and once again I had to learn how to think and to write. I learned plot and characters. It wasn’t as easy this time.
So here I am with a second life and with thyroid cancer, maybe I am embarking on a third life. I hope it is full of color.
Blue green, blue violet, carnation pink
lemon yellow, orange red, raw sienna
drawn and melted on the front sidewalk–
a masterpiece of childhood–
stick figures, block houses, round tree tops
four-leaf clovers, flowers, and yellow bees
I was caught crayon handed.
soap, tears, and scrub brushes
hands scraped and bleeding
the offending colors erased
She said: Next time use chalk
It was the last time I made
a mark on the world–
I almost forgot A Flicker of Hope.