my dream about being white
hey music and
hair a flutter of fall leaves
circling my perfect
line of a nose
no behind, hey
and i’m wearing
but there’s no future
in those clothes
so i take them off and
— Lucille Clifton
I’m thinking I need to put a little more dedicated time into my rhyme royals, maybe make the writing the first thing I do in the morning: wake up, pull my notebook into the bed and get to work. Sanchez talked about doing that when she was starting to write haiku. She kept at it for much longer than a month, of course. I don’t see myself doing that with this form. I was happy to keep up with the tanka, but these rhyme royals … we’re still standing on opposite sides of a line.
It’s interesting to see just how much I continue to resist this form. I’ve been at it a couple of weeks now, and I still can’t quite get comfortable. It’s true that I am God’s own rhythm-less girl, but it still surprises me how much the rhythm of a rhyme pushes against me. I keep trying to thwart that rhythm. I extend, shorten and wrap lines, push and pull at cadence … but the rhymes still jump out at me, still wave their red flags. I’m putting up my 17th try today … and I think this form could still be kicking me if I was putting up my 17ooth try!
But I continue. I’m nothing if not dogged … and perhaps a glutton for punishment.
A friend of mine has a labyrinth in her back yard. I’ve never walked it. At the WE LEARN conference last month, she made one on the stage in the main conference hall. That one I walked. I really like the idea of the labyrinth as meditation, the idea that there is only one path and that you wind yourself into the center as you walk, and then have to wind your way back out again. Reminds me of Smithson’s Spiral Jetty.
I’ve been thinking about the labyrinth a lot today. At the conference, my friend also taught us how to make our own labyrinth, and I have to say I’ve been drawing them ever since. I love how easy it is to do, and I love how contemplative the drawing is. I think this is in my mind today because I’ve been trying to focus so hard on what’s going on and going wrong in my class right now, trying to find my way back to the dynamic I feel certain we can have, looking closely at what I’m doing as an instructor that is and isn’t working.
I’ve made a little draw-your-own-labyrinth slideshow that takes you through the basic steps:
I trace the path around —
curve leading to curve, turning
in and over, not lost but found.
Focus on breath and thought, not sound,
or time, but movement, question, peace.
Ending at the beginning. Release.