Months after the neighbors piled their firewood
tall as the windows, wide as the house, and strung
brown plastic between the pine trees, protecting
their winter heat and blocking my view,
it snows, and in the morning, the tarp-tented
heaps of uncut logs appear suddenly beautiful.
Just a fine shake of flakes shining in the sun,
tree-drips pattering on plastic, and I am in love
for a moment, thinking, Is this how a poem happens?
One day I sit in bed past any reasonable hour,
and finally stop thinking about the neighbors
stealing my view, about everything needing doing
or undoing: the dishes, my taxes, the mess I made
with my exes. Seeing the sap-leaking stacks of wood
as if for the first time, some part of me collapses—
maybe my work ethic? Personal aesthetics?
Moral standards? Whatever it was, wherever it stood
inside me opens, letting in what little light there is.
This is a poem that paints such a visual picture for us that it is hard not to imagine – the neighbor’s firewood stacked high and wide, covered in brown plastic, protecting / their winter heat and blocking my view. At this point, I sense a flicker of irritation, such as I might feel myself under the circumstances. And then it snows, and the uncut logs appear suddenly beautiful so that the poet pauses to say I am in love / for a moment, before asking this evocative question: Is this how a poem happens? Oh yes, this is how it happens!
She shifts from thinking about the neighbors / stealing my view, about everything needing doing / or undoing, these thoughts that snare us, pulling us down. Suddenly, the sap-leaking stacks of wood appear different as some part of me collapses. It is at this moment that she drops her defenses, her grumpiness, questioning her own work ethic, aesthetics, moral standards – whatever it was. Suddenly, wherever it stood / inside me opens, letting in what little light there is. A moment, a crack where the light gets in, showing her beauty without the resistance.
Have you ever had a poem-moment like that? I hope so; they are so precious.