Thanks for the Words
A smudge was reveled in front of two indentations when
I moved my reading chair to the opposite corner of my room.
My husband was the first to notice
Saying he had carpet cleaner that would erase it.
I didn’t respond – but knew this smudge couldn’t be erased,
one of countless smudges, where feet have rested over centuries.
Where I humbled myself as reader, writer, thinker… learner
longing for words to express novel ideas, ancient yearnings.
What flourished here disturbed previous certainties and riled emotions;
upon this smudge I vacillated between elation and exhaustion.
Your hard work nurtured my thinking, inspired and healed me.
Your words powered my words.
You are a part of me, I took your words in, chewed them up,
integrated those that enlarged my brain weave of previous
learning and values; and swallowed the rest for later
expulsion with other unneeded wastes.
I marveled at your effective use of words, well-crafted sentences,
plots and arguments that were well constructed.
I absorbed new ways of thinking and experimented with your skills.
And sometimes I laughed out loud as I read you.
Every time I placed my feet on the smudge on the carpet
and lowered myself into my reading chair,
I entered an exceptional place, occupied by your words.
The outcome can’t be erased. Thank you.
Patricia Bailey, 2020
I started re-reading Ted Kooser’s “The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets” at the same time I was contemplating the smudge on the carpet of my reading room, exposed as I was arranging the room for my daughter to use as a home office. Two pieces of advice in Kooser’s first two chapters resonated with me, (a) use everyday observations as subject matter (like a smudge on the carpet?) and (b) to think about who you are writing for (all the writers I have read – fiction, poetry, professional, journalistic) and make sure your writing gives them what they need. These two principles guided my previous professional and personal writing, but I needed to transfer these skills to poetry writing. I flexed my fingers and started the writing process.