I Am Here
I moved to Northern Michigan because it felt like home, because I felt called by...something. Everything. By the clean air, by the way the breeze moves through the trees on a summer night, by the feeling of walking on the shore after midnight with nothing but the moon to light your way. By the sound of Lake Michigan touching the sand, sometimes wildly with the crash of mighty waves and sometimes with the soft touch of a mother on her sleeping child.
Being here has always awakened something in me, required me to pay more attention than I was prone to doing elsewhere. What is it about nature that has a tendency to do that to us? I walk barefoot in the dirt and feel the way it presses up between my toes, smell the opening lilacs in the spring and suddenly notice the whole world opening.
In some ways, I worry that I am hiding. That staying in this place that seems to demand my attention is a bit of laziness on my part...perhaps I live here so that I do not have to do the work I would have to do elsewhere. I wake up and walk to the Lake and am forced into a day of noticing. I cannot see those brilliant blues without gasping and feeling my heart open to a world outside of my own body. Would I be as attentive if I lived in a city, in a land I did not feel so drawn to? Or is my choice to live here evidence of my attention, of my noticing where it is that makes me my best self, and following through on my heart's leading?
Walking along Lake Michigan's shore has always inspired words from me. Sometimes it even inspires singing. When my nieces were babies I would carry them along the edge of the water at nap time, covering them with a light blanket and singing songs about the shore as the waves crashed nearby and lulled them to sleep. Some days I stand in the water about to jump under, singing these Lake songs as prayers. The water is a magical place, is a lyrical place, and my drive to write grows by being in such close proximity to it.
The last seven weeks of writing daily poetry have stretched me in so many more ways than I expected. The words have come on my walks along the Lake, as I sat at home sipping my coffee reminiscing on a night swim from the evening before. They have poured out of me on drives downstate away from the Lake, in hotel rooms in New Orleans and on airplanes hovering above the water. I have struggled to write words some days and have done so anyways, plucking favorite phrases and lines from other poets as inspiration, from conversations with my neighbors...anything to spur the writing on. I have missed writing a handful of days, but only a handful and that feels like an accomplishment.
My goal with this project has been to build a practice. Yes, I wanted to write good poems, poems that maybe I could compile into a collection someday, but more than anything, I wanted to further my practice of writing. I wanted to learn how to edit better, to stick with a piece that I started and see it through to completion. I wanted to learn how to share my words without being so critical of them, to believe that I had something worth saying and that somehow it might impact someone else. And I must say, this project is doing that ten-fold.
I definitely plan to share more about my growth, the ways that my practice has shifted, the prompts I have given myself, the editing practices I have adapted. I plan to use this website to discuss writing a bit more in the future. But today, I am showing up just to say that I am here and that I am stringing words together almost every day. Keep an eye out on the blog some of my favorite poems from the last seven weeks. I will be sharing a few each week from now until the end of July, and will be working between now and then on what the next iteration of this project will be. I cannot wait to see what continues to grow in me through this.