20 October 2010

it's like a small fire in a clearing

This week's theme is apparently secrets.

Not that I try to write around themes, but let's face it, a little structure never hurt anyone. A lack of structure, however, always hurts me.

But this theme I didn't really plan, and it doesn't mean that I'm building up to some big secret reveal. Such as that I'm secretly married. To a prince. Of Denmark*. Who isn't depressed like Hamlet.

Today's variation on the theme: an excerpt from a poem by Stephen Dunn called "A Secret Life." This poem has severely underlined sections in my book, mostly on the lines around "When you write late at night / it's like a small fire in a clearing, it's what / radiates and what can hurt."

Aside from the fact that I don't write late at night—I sleep late at night, like normal people who get up at 5:30—I could wrap myself up in that idea. There is a part of each of us that contains our best and worst selves. Our dreams and our fears {fears, perhaps, that our dreams won't come true}. Our snarky comments and our affirming reassurances.

It can feel like a contradictory place, but it's the place you allow yourself to live in contradictions, in mismatched hopes, in not-fully-explained thoughts.

It's that part of you that can simultaneously self-lecture and self-encourage, which for me, usually goes something like, "Come on, Mia, pull yourself together! Why are you having trouble [fill in blank here—possibilities include running more/faster, writing more, being a good friend, staying focused at work]? And yet, you're doing the best you can. It's okay." All that in one millisecond thought from that part of me I often don't want to show other people because it feels a bit too...fiery.

a secret life {excerpt}

The secret life
begins early, is kept alive
by all that's unpopular
in you, all that you know
a Baptist, say, or some other
accountant would object to.
It becomes what you'd most protect
if the government said you can protect
one thing, all else is ours.
When you write late at night
it's like a small fire
in a clearing, it's what
radiates and what can hurt
if you get too close to it.
It's why your silence is a kind of truth.
Even when you speak to your best friend,
the one who'll never betray you,
you always leave out one thing;
a secret life is that important.

*Subject to me finding out if Denmark still has princes. I think they do. I once visited there, but I didn't meet any. I was, however, staying at a hostel, and I bet princes don't go the hostel route. Heck, even I don't go the hostel route anymore.

1 comment:

  1. I've been re-reading this for years. If you like Stephen Dunn, The Snow-mass cycle is great.



Related Posts with Thumbnails