Enrolling in the School of Fish

I’ve been in a state of writing-paralysis, frozen by the headlights of the quickly approaching manuscript deadline, graduation, and returning to full-time high school teaching.   No matter that I wake up every morning thankful for the day of writing ahead, for the challenging and astute comments of my mentor, and for the luxury of being able to pursue a dream, I end up stuck in finding solutions to fix poems I once thought were done.   They are not done, these poems that carry the weight of the need/desire/expectation to be published, to win fellowships, to be given scholarships, to become a book so that I can do more of what I love so much I can’t do it:  write.   Much like my own body that has taken on weight in this process, there is too much attached to my poems for them to have the freedom of movement.  So each morning I turn on the computer and vow today will be the day I fix it all.

I don’t and so I go to yoga.   Perhaps to avoid writing,  I started trading work hours for unlimited yoga classes, so after class, working at the front desk, I picked up a magazine during some down time.  The article I read focused on how healers heal themselves.  Odd, since I am not really a healer, but I figured I would pick up a few tips from the pros.   The writer focused on the distinction between fixing and healing — between seeing something as broken or inferior versus being in need of transformation.

My poems don’t need fixing, they need healing and transformation.   Still, my brain tightens, resists, doubs her ability to heal these poems (and maybe me).

Moreover, also working on synthesizing disease and healing into my poems, I wonder how this process of moving from being broken, in need to fixing, being in need of healing and transformation might be embodied in a poem.  What would that look like?  Is it possible to do this in a poem that is complete?   Or is this concept only useful in the act of revision.

In the yoga class I took that day, my teacher, who had just come back from a trip snorkeling, asked us to visual a fish in changing currents, to see how the fish does not resist the changes, but pauses, adjusts, and then uses the current to move to where the fish needs or wants to be.

In writing I am both the fish and the ocean as are my poems.   Like a fish, we must be still and let this current of the other carry us to the place where snorkelers will listen to their breath as they admire our ability to stay in the flow.