(Disclaimer: I wrote this a few days ago, but it’s just now getting posted.)
I have a piece from the prose poem sequence up today at Housefire. (Click on the link above to read it.) In the sequence (and, I think, on the page), it’s part of the bigger narrative. And I know that and intended that when I wrote it. But the beauty of fictionalized work (regardless of genre) is that it can be about many things. So on the page, it’s about a character, the “you.” But as I wrote it, I also knew that it was an elegy for someone other than that character.
So this piece is weighty for me. I’m happy to see it up at Housefire. And that bio! Jesus! The bios are one of my favorite parts of the Housefire experience—they’re written for you, generally by people you’ve never met. So they aren’t about the author in any way. And yet….reading them, they seem somehow to fit a little more than you might expect. This intrigues me. Are we just reading what we know into things? I’m not sure. I don’t think so, though…and I know other Housefire authors who’ve pointed out the fitting nature of their own bios. So there might be something to this.
So my morning started in memory and elegy. But then I went and taught, and so far, this batch of students is making me happy. They’re engaged and energetic, and I’m excited about what’s ahead this semester. It seems full of possibility. And that’s how we work, right? One foot in what’s passed, another in what’s promised. I think that’s a good thing.
Yesterday I spent most of my afternoon at the zoo, where I saw the snakes get fed. I’d never seen this happen before. So I watched the various approaches—the venomous snakes inject their prey, then sit back and wait for venom to take effect. The constrictors do just what their names imply: they constrict, suffocating their prey by wrapping tightly around it. And the thing that’s fascinating to me is that even though the zoo I was at feeds prey that’s already dead, the snakes do the same thing they would do in the wild, where they’d capture live prey. So they don’t just start eating, though they could. Instead, they follow the process they’d always follow: they bite the dead rat, or they wind themselves around it. They understand that there’s a way to do things, and they do them in that manner. It was kind of beautiful.
I’ve spent a lot of this year thinking about & looking for forms. Decemeber felt, more than anything, formless. Finishing the prose poem sequence (which, I should add, I sent off as a chapbook submission this week!) helped me regain sense of the shape of things again. And so, like those snakes, in this formless & tumultuous year, I’ve fallen back on the thing I know best. I keep writing.
Thanks for reading.