My morning poem
Alive from lack of this world
Come evening she’s dead
Quite often, I wake up in the middle of the night with some snippet of a poem or a suddenly urgent question or a nicely dancing set of seventeen syllables that claim to be a Wolfku refusing to let me fall all the way back to sleep until I make a note of it/them—lest I forget it/them come my four-a.m. morning.
To accommodate this, I have a ream or so of copy paper in my bedside stand drawer along with a trusted mechanical pencil, and these days I can reach out, pull the drawer open and select a sheet of paper (and fold it in half) along with the pencil (that I bought many years ago in a department store in Clearwater, Florida where the sales clerk categorically told me they absolutely had no mechanical pencils—ten steps after which I stumbled upon the display of them), and turn on my bedside lamp and without really waking up all the way write the snippet, question, Wolfku down. Then I clip the pencil to the folded sheet (facilitating reaching for the sheet and pencil again for the invariable revisions to sail into my head a minute or five or ten from now) and place it on top of the ream or so of still innocent sheets of paper.
Then I turn out the light, roll over onto my left side and try to re-enter sleep. An often-thankless task.
Yes, occasionally, I’ll drift back, but most of the time I muse the snippet or Wolfku a little and if I do I’ll invariably come up with something which I now have to write down, too, lest I forget it come morning.
So, I do: reach for the folded shee and pencil, turn on the light again and revise/add/refine/re-write, etc. the thought in question.
Then I return paper and pencil and try again to sleep, which more often than not leads to another revision.
Here, though, is the curious and often wonderful thing: The poem or the thought (since it is all that is going on for me at this hour of night), even if patently strange, makes perfect sense to me and strikes me as not only meaningful but perhaps important, too. Mankind needs to know of this (that’s why I cannot afford to forget these things, or so I tell myself).
My alarm goes off at 4 a.m. at which point I rise, silence the alarm and turn the cell phone off (I’m using an old, decommissioned but excellent cell phone as my alarm), brush my teeth, exercise, shave and shower, then do my morning sitting (Anapanasati Meditation). After that I usually read for an hour or so (Dhamma) and reflect on wise words uttered or written by wise people.
I then check/retrieve my night-time notes and enter them either in my journal or as a new Wolfku, etc.
Then it’s time to walk.
And still, even now, the night-time notes, the morning poem, my noted thoughts ring true, remain alive in me for lack of this awake (and very intrusive) world. Too much of the night still surrounds and permeates me (for meditation and reading and reflecting does not disturb that mood overly) to ruin the heart of the poem: yes, it still lives, and often I’ll worry it and revise a little during my walk.
However, upon arrival back from my hour’s walk, the awake world now makes a serious push for dominance as it arrives with its emails and blog posts and news and soccer scores and music to be selected to chop salad by, then the actual chopping and now the sitting down to the meal itself (it’s around 10 a.m., now, and this is my lunch).
And from there the day goes on. There’s yardwork to be done, there’s mail to collect, there’s shopping to do, there more email, there might be an article to write, and there is more and more awake world pushing out more and more night-time ditto, and by late afternoon or early evening, the poem has as often as not lost not only its meaning and importance but its breath, too. If I haven’t forgotten it altogether, it certainly seems no longer at all important.
As luck would have it, though, come next morning—the awake world cleared out of my head again, the poem (or one of its many siblings, newly born overnight or not) is alive and breathing again.
Perhaps I should never fully wake up, would that keep my poems alive? Or I should completely and forever wake up transcending all nights. Possibly the latter.