The 8:08

sometimes we make choices

we don’t like

sometimes we speak to those

who do not hear 

(they do not want to hear.  they cannot hear.)

sometimes we find treasure

in an empty glance

sometimes we live quietly and

other times, out loud in the

heat of day.

 

today, I release my name. 

today, I shut the closet door that holds

designer dresses and 

shoes. 

today, I empty the medicine cabinet of

fancy lotions and the eyelash 

curler that never worked. 

I dump the mascara that bled 

into my eyes, blinding my

sight. 

 

I no longer exist within measurements 

how long 

how much

how many 

what to do 

when to do it 

how to do it and 

for whom 

 

today, I am nothing but a scribble- 

scratch on the page, a voice

that comes from far away, an 

old friend, arriving on the 8:08.

 

I haven’t seen her in a long time

but we recognize each other

right away. 

Here Is Where I Am

Commentary

 

"A character in transition is always a good place to start."

 

I have offered this advice to many writing students over the years.  We enjoy reading about characters in the midst of change, characters who face a wall of I can’t do this.  They inspire us by taking a leap of faith, even when terrified. 

 

My poem, The 8:08, reflects my own leap of faith. Before writing it, I didn’t feel I had anything to say. The previous day, school had ended. I would not return next year and I had no future plans.  How could I write about a void? 

 

Then I remembered a documentary I’d seen recently about the writer Joan Didion.  I remembered that she’d said she used a “reporter’s eye,” writing as a an observer to her own life. She wasn’t interested in telling a story; she was interested in telling the truth.  

 

That inspired me. My approach to writing The 8:08 moved from This is what I have to say to Here is where I am. 

 

We will always live in moments of uncertainty. I have no idea what the future will bring, not only for me, but for our country. The page, however, refutes uncertainty.  It is a white canvas, destined for creation, and within its square space, holds the promise of an affirmation.  Even while describing loss, our words are born, again and again and again.