Why Poetry: The Story Knows, 2

Says Laura Boggess:

I started this little story as I waited for Maureen Doallas’s Neruda’s Memoirs: Poems. I had been so looking forward to the release of the book, had ordered it the second I heard it was available–and then was frustrated by what seemed like a terribly long delivery (it was only a few days, but felt much longer). It was very windy that week–I watched religiously for the mailman each day amidst flying little bits of this world–leaves, papers, my neighbor’s flag. As I waited, I entertained myself with the story of Amy Pinkleberry–a young divorcee who struggles with depression. Amy’s depression is characterized by auditory hallucinations–destructive voices that prevent her from finding the happiness she so longs for. Only one thing stops the voices and that is…well, you’ll just have to read on to find out…

Waiting on Neruda’s Memoirs, Part 2

She reached her hand inside the yawning mailbox and felt around deep inside. Nothing. Where could it be? She had been waiting for Neruda’ Memoirs for two weeks. Usually, Amazon only took three days to get her order to her. She needed that book.

Poetry was the only thing that stopped the voices.

And not just any poetry. It had to be Maureen’s. Her doctor called it obsessive-compulsive traits. Once she set her mind on something, nothing else would do. Last year it was Emily Dickinson. Steven had told her to take a class. Do something with your life, he had said. It was just on a whim that she signed up for the American Lit class at the campus downtown. Just to make him happy. She’d always loved poetry, but never felt it was practical. There weren’t very many literature courses in the business track she took as a young co-ed. And later, when she was working on her MBA, there wasn’t time for things like that. She’d worked a full-time administrative job and taken classes in the evening. It was what was necessary to get Steven through medical school. The plan was, she would run his office when he started his OB/GYN practice. That’s what she did too. For ten years. But…Steven had said find something you love, for Pete’s sake.It was after they decided to stop with the in vitro–after she had descended as deep as she’d ever been in the blackness. Poetry was the only thing that made sense. And Dickinson?

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Cirrcuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—

The first time she read it, she read her life. Tell it slant. Wasn’t this how it had always been for her?

Amy shivered and walked back inside woodenly, securing the door against the wind behind her.

Steven was afraid of the voices. For as long as she could remember, the voices had been her constant companion. But when she was younger, they weren’t quite so real…they weren’t quite so loud.

As she grew older, they became more powerful. Dr. Larinsky called them auditory hallucinations. But Amy wasn’t so sure. If they were, how could poetry make them go away? How could Emily Dickinson speak them into silence?

And now, it was Maureen Doallas. She had followed Maureen’s blog for over a year—gobbling up every bit of poetry the woman laid down. Her work was simply brilliant. It was smart and fluid and echoed with deep loss and the incomparable joy of transcending it. When she’d heard there was a book coming out, she was ecstatic. That was when Dickinson had stopped working.

She needed that poetry book.

Suddenly, she had a thought. She could get online and track the order.

Putting the mismatched envelopes on the kitchen counter and shedding her shoes in steps, she ran to the living room couch—her office. She pulled her laptop out from under the sofa and unfolded it into her lap.

“Come on, come on.”

The two minute boot up never seemed so long. Finally! She pulled up her favorites and clicked on the Amazon link.

“There it is: Track you’re order.”

It took some clicking around but she finally found it.


How could that be? There was no way she could have missed it. She’d been holding vigil for days. Ever since that dreadful bank interview.

At the memory of her most recent failure, Amy was flooded with self-loathing.But before it could find a voice her eyes landed on the problem.

Delivered to: 108 Taylor Drive.

Why, that wasn’t her address! That was the house down the street. The big one, with the gate that closed and locked at night.

Well. Gate or no gate, she needed that book. Amy grabbed her puffy down coat, plunged her feet into the clogs she’d abandoned in the kitchen, and headed out into the wind and down the street.

To be continued…

Photo by Gemma Stiles, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Story by Laura Boggess. Reprinted with permission.

Read Part 1
Read Part 3
Read Part 4
Read Part 5
Read Part 6
Read Part 7
Read Part 8
Read Part 9
Read Part 10
Read Part 11
Read Part 12


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