Posted on 01 July 2006

to a friend, a writer, who was born on Canada Day in Vancouver, quite a number of years ago though not as many as me.

The Writer's Table

And since I don’t know her birth name, I will not name her.

Too often, I measure my words as I measure ingredients for a recipe – to the exact quarter teaspoon – though everyone knows the best cooks are those who experiment.

And so for your birthday, my friend, I am letting myself go. I haven’t dressed yet and it is after noon here. I began celebrating your birthday at 8 a.m. this morning, though it is not quite your day in Canada. At first, I thought that I should just send an email but it didn’t feel enough… there is a voice in my head that is always saying why make public, what should be kept private? But if I listened to this voice, I would write nothing and you are the one who is always urging me on… write, write, write and so I have been writing writing writing trying to think of something original to say, something beyond “have a great day. I’m thinking of you. Hope this year is your best yet”. These words would be sincere enough but groan, I’ve said them too many times and I would like to be more creative (though tired words and repetition are effective from time to time.)

For two hours, I have been searching poetry books, reading them from cover to cover, trying to find the perfect poem for you as you love poetry as much as me. And you, unlike me, are a poet. (What difference this makes I don’t know. One can love something and not be its creator.)

Have you heard of Paula Meehan, a Northern Irish poet? I especially like her lines:
“O somewhere there is a beautiful myth of sorting,
of sifting through a mountain of dross to find the one seed
whose eventual blossom is such would make a god cry.”

And D.H. Lawrence. In “Moral Clothing” he writes:
“Offer me nothing but that which you are, stark and strange.
Let there be no accommodation at this issue.”
(I think this is what we both aim for in our writing.)

And Mary Oliver who Marlene introduced me to so many years ago. The first quote I wrote from in her classroom was “You do not have to be good… ”
(Why does some of the best writing come from socially unacceptable thoughts? I dare you to do something “bad” today.)
And since it is stinking hot here today – I have changed from my clothes back to my night gown – I will give you some lines from “The Summer Day”, that make me feel good about wiling away my hours…

“I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass…
how to be idle and blessed…
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

It is now after 5 in the afternoon and you are probably just rising. Happy Birthday. Have a great day. Hope this year is your best yet. With love, yy

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