On Writing

Poem 16 – Before The Book Is Born Part I

Before The Book Is Born – Part I

in a straightjacket
my soul treads
back & forth
diagonal & circular
paths eroding the
floor of my Belonging

she bangs her head
against steel wool walls
won’t eat
won’t drink 
can’t sleep
for the lunatic lyrics
mean melodies to
the Songs of Fear
ceaseless in the space
like poison

I do not belong
carved in a corner
from before

Love watches 
waits


Linda sent me a photo of a page from Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection. One of the lines jumped out at me and clung to my face:

Love belongs with belonging.

Brene Brown

Yesterday, I chose the date for my virtual book launch. I’ve been thinking about my book launch for months. Alas, choosing a date felt too big a decision to make considering that the future has become a sly stranger. Making plans feels counter-intuitive. But worrying about it (the launch) expanded from innocent stone to heaving boulder to jagged mountain over the holidays. Then I got sick; an ulcerative colitis flare lighting up my guts like a firework. Not the celebratory kind. Worry was winning and wreaking havoc on my health. This is not who I want to be.

Why the worry? Because I’ve been here before. In the throes of near-completion for a book-child’s gestation. The proofs have been proofed and signed-off on. The cover has been designed and confirmed. Soon it will be time to hold the baby in my hands. To lift her to my nose and inhale her inky soul. To celebrate. To share. To be grateful she exists in the world.

But, I am not ready.

I am afraid.

I am worried about how she will be received, judged, read or not read. Loved or not loved.

One voice in my head flicks its wrist and says none of that matters. But all the other voices stomp on her because they want me to feel bad about who I am. There is work to be done in diving into the centre of ‘me’ – the poet – who is shy, cautious, and trembling with a mountain-sized need to belong in the community of other poets. She wants to matter.

Still, a huge chunk of my torso is strong and knows without question that I am a poet. A great poet. A great poet whose words matter no matter who reads them. Love lives here full-time and cooks and cleans and tends to the courage it takes to be a poet.

Still, my soul sneaks off into the asylums in the Worrytowns that move around in my heart like weather.

And so, in full-fledged fear-full transparency, I’m opening these Truths to you as the day of thimbles’ birth arrives.

Love belongs with belonging. I’ll join the two. In time.

5 thoughts on “Poem 16 – Before The Book Is Born Part I

  1. Cancel your reservation in Worrytown.   I’m in the middle of rewriting portions of my WIP, title undetermined, to pick up the pace a little and smooth edges.  More to do, but it’s the work that rewards me.  Seeing the book for sale, giving talks, holding the print book–all that’s nice but it’s the work that brings a smile. You too? M

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  2. hi Vanessa

    this is tough! it’s painful. I understand why you’re scared.

    but you are so brave… I have faith in your poems…

    sending hugs,

    Charis xoxo

    On Sat, 16 Jan 2021 at 13:43, VANESSA SHIELDS, writer wrote:

    > Vanessa Shields posted: ” Before The Book Is Born – Part I in a > straightjacketmy soul treadsback & forthdiagonal & circularpaths eroding > thefloor of my Belonging she bangs her headagainst steel wool wallswon’t > eatwon’t drink can’t sleepfor the lunatic lyricsmea” >

    Like

  3. Can’t wait for your book launch! I look forward to reading it Vanessa ♥

    I can relate to this email / poem / thoughts ♥

    Love you!

    On Sat, Jan 16, 2021 at 12:13 PM VANESSA SHIELDS, writer wrote:

    > Vanessa Shields posted: ” Before The Book Is Born – Part I in a > straightjacketmy soul treadsback & forthdiagonal & circularpaths eroding > thefloor of my Belonging she bangs her headagainst steel wool wallswon’t > eatwon’t drink can’t sleepfor the lunatic lyricsmea” >

    Like

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