The other night a talented poet in my critique group shared several of her poems. Her words left me breathless. I was stunned by their beauty and power. I related to several of the lines in a very intimate way. They made me think. They made me want to cry. They set my heart on fire. This woman captured feelings that I have experienced. Emotions that are still locked inside my soul. I admired how she breathed life into her underpinnings of her very being and allowed her innermost thoughts to take flight on the page.
I hated the fact, the knowledge, that it’s so difficult for me to do the same.
When I was a kid I was told, “Children are to be seen and not heard.” Through years too numerous and painful to count, daggers of condemnation pierced my heart. I learned keeping silent was safe. But when the danger passed, my words were gone. I literally had a hard time even speaking.
Writing was out of the question.
Old habits die hard.
Slowly my words are returning. A cookbook--that was safe. No danger there. A few short stories, essays, and blog posts. Frightening to fish around inside myself and throw out what I discover. Yet it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that every word I write is a step. Small, but a step all the same.
One thing I never envisioned for myself was writing poetry. I knew the words poets use--the words I would need to use to be a poet, if indeed I could hope to learn the art--were too dangerous. But last fall I stepped out of my comfort zone. I did the unthinkable. I entered a poem in a contest at the county fair.
Is There Anyone Left?
Is there anyone left who will fight
For what’s good and what’s right and what’s true?
Who, facing derision, makes firm the decision
To wage battle ‘til all wrongs are through…
Not genius by any measure. But a six stanza offering all the same. My words. And, much to my surprise, the piece won an award.
It’s a start.
Maybe the next time my critique group meets I’ll find the courage to share the poem, and some of the others that are flapping around in my mind. Words waiting to take flight.