I'm reading Bill Moyers' book The Language of Life, a companion to his series on today's poets. I wrote my first poem at age 6 in the back seat of the family Buick. I thought is was great. I was really amazed with myself. I wrote poetry nearly every day after that for at least 20 years. There were some breaks. When I was 11, we moved and my mother tossed my box of poetry. That pissed me off so bad I gave it up for a while. Until my first crush and there I went. I wrote nearly every day again. In college, a favorite professor volunteered to read my poetry and help me with my writing. His constructive criticism was exhilarating. I wrote more and better than I'd dreamed possible.
I was 27 when I moved out of an apartment with one of those roommates from Hell. I went far off one way, roommate went far off another. Roommate took that box of diaries and all the poems contained therein. Never to be seen or heard from again. Breaking up is hard. Going back, even for one's life work, can often just not be worth it. I like to imagine some distant future, grandchildren cleaning out an attic find the Lost Years of my poetry, thus completing my legacy to the great relief of literary critics everywhere.
I've written maybe three poems in the interim, two of which are lost to posterity. There might be some in my diaries, but life has been full and rich and painful and joyous and I don't really want to revisit my diaries, even to loot them for lost verse. I prefer to move forward. These really are the best years of my life, I promise you that.
Still, as Barbara Kingsolver noted, unwritten poems become dust bunnies. Dust bunnies multiply and lurk under the bed, waiting to attack you at night, in early morning, whenever they can. I have today been assaulted by the attack of the dust bunnies. My early instincts have awakened and now my soul shall be heard.:
An Apple keeps you well and wise,
a Banana safe and pure.
Pears will never show surprise,
A Mango's always sure.
Cherry is so very merry
as it is with many berries.
But, ah. A Peach.
So out of reach,
will steal your friends,
and when she's done (and just for fun)
she'll turn around and suck you in.