As a young person, I fell asleep with the dictionary, scribbling down words and meanings that tolled within my imagination. Fervent. Radiant. Contagious. Eclectic. Hoosgow.
Years (and a growing collection of dictionaries) later, I’m still ripping out images or words for the font and pasting them in a journal; handwriting a quote or line of a poem along the inside of my arm; baking cookies with ink-stained fingers; forgotten pens stuck behind my ears.
• • •
Epiphany, noun: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homey, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
Being a poet is not a calling of light. Illumination, yes. There is a darkness surrounding poetry, an immutable force that breathes alongside furious fingers, entwining with the writer’s will until the difference between poet and epiphany is indistinguishable.
It can occur at any given moment. During a walk to the mailbox, a copper sycamore leaf floating to the ground beside you, or while putting away clean dishes, the rhythm of an everyday activity transforming a chore into a form of relaxation and familiarity. It can happen, too, at the sound or sight of a word: pursue, unfettered, wildflower, abide, be.
• • •
Cave, verb: to hollow out.
A stroke of inspiration: throat gasps, eyes widen, fingers burn and itch, heart pounds. There is a demanding need for the sound of pen scratching paper, the smell of the ink, lips mumbling the sounds and forms emanating from imagination.
There is a carving being done in the poet’s night. A carving of words, meanings, images. The underground is wide, expansive. This is the secret place of a writer’s work, occurring far beneath the surface. The frenzy of structure and sound is an invisible force, manifesting in the mind and pen, a cohesion that must be felt in order to be known.
• • •
Pigment, verb: to color; add pigment to.
Wiping down the simulated granite countertops of my apartment, one hand scoops crumbs into the open, empty hand. My eyes glaze over the black and white speckled texture, allowing my fingers to glide over the smooth surface, feeling the nicks and dents left by the knives of so many previous tenants. The motions of my body blend with the object in possession, creating a substance neither dry nor liquid, but still something I can dip into and out of, loaded with ability.
Countertops become a map. Rags become ghosts. The grey plane of living awaits a new coat of color – maybe a scarlet red, or Prussian blue, or a strong dose of burnt umber. Stories build themselves from these smoke-scrawls of the imagination. The only thing to do is to take them and lay them on paper.
Photo by See-Ming Lee, Creative Commons via Flickr. Post by Lakin Easterling.
Browse more Journey into Poetry
Take your own journey into poetry:
Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99
Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In November, we’re exploring the theme Cats.
- Read for Fun—Reading Yourself into the Story - April 3, 2015
- Journey into Poetry: Lakin Easterling - November 20, 2013
Lisa Easterling says
So many perfects. So perfectly you. I love you.
(: Glad you liked it!
Wow!! Just wow!! I’d say you stick with this for the rest of your life. Also please share more of your wisdom of words.
Thank you, very much. Words will always stick with me, whether I like it or not. (:
Will Willingham says
Particularly intrigued by the distinction between light and illumination. That there are more ways to illuminate than direct light, and that some of our best work gets done in the shadowy places.
This is what we’re discussing today in our book club on Claire Burge’s “Spin,” in fact, just one post back. (https://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2013/11/20/spin-creativity-book-club/)
It’s a thoughtful convergence between these two posts.
Loved this post. “It works, just differently.” There is much to be said for what is handled in the dark room. My own process of wordsmithing began in the night, after all. (:
Lakin, you are very talented and have such a way with words! Beautiful & I love your style of writing! It fits you.
kelly Tuthless says
Sometime I find a really special poem that empowers me, this is very rare but when it happens, it’s so sweet.