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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spouses of Poets

In Praise of the Longsuffering Spouses of Poets

That was the real title I wanted to use, but it seemed kind of excessive for the sidebar list.

So last night before bed I was revising a poem, and I was stuck on an image. I knew I wanted some kind of mechanical imagine, but not having much vocabulary in that particular field, I couldn't think of what sort of mechanism to use.

My husband wanted to get up at 4 am to watch the women's soccer game between Japan and Sweden, so he wanted to turn out the light (I was working on the poem in bed), and since I was stuck anyway, I decided to just sleep on the problem.

At 2:30 am I woke up suddenly, having just had a very vivid dream in which my grandfather appeared. My grandfather, a great tinkerer with an avid interest in tools, hardware stores, and DIY projects, but who has been dead about a decade, had been with me in my dream, and when I woke up, I had three or four images that would all fit into the poem I was working on. It felt like my grandfather had brought me the images as a gift.

I didn't want to wake my husband, since he was going to be getting so little sleep anyway, but I had to write down everything, so I was sitting in bed scribbling in the dark. At about 3 am, my poor tired husband woke up and asked, "What are you doing?"

"Writing, sorry I woke you," I answered, still scribbling away.

My husband tossed and turned awhile and then feel asleep only to be awakened shortly after by his alarm. (The Japanese team won, by the way, so he later said it was worth the sleep deprivation.)

Poor spouses of poets, putting up with unfortunately timed fits of inspiration, with periods of dispirited reactions to rejections, with frantic looking for the right word instead of doing chores. Poor spouses having to maneuver around the piles of books everywhere, having to deal with the ramifications of the relatively low incomes of their artistic partners, and with partners who claim to be working although they appear to be just  staring off into space. Poor spouses who get asked to take the children out for the day so a poem or project can be worked on in peace, who find the printer out of ink and paper both since a round of manuscripts went out in the mail earlier that day. Poor spouses who say nothing of postal fees and entry fees for said manuscripts, who rejoice when acceptances come even though they have no idea what it means to have a poem in a certain journal. Poor dear spouses of poets.

This is in praise of all the longsuffering spouses of poets, especially mine.

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