Getting Back on the Horse

… or something. This morning I walked down to the train and rode to work. Yes, I did tell my mother last night that I’d probably take cabs today, but the fares were all crazy elevated today, so it was the MTA for me. Which was better in the long run. Better to get right back on the train and not let myself get nervous about riding because I’m always going to need to be on the subway. This isn’t the time to let fear take me out.

So I took the train to work this morning. And, of course, it was fine. And it was also awkward. The tension — mine and that of the riders around me — was practically a solid thing, prickling on my skin. But we were all okay. There were some knowing and understanding smiles exchanged here and there, and everything went smoothly.

A strange day. Every meeting started with a recounting: your proximity to 36th Street and 4th Avenue, people you know who live in Sunset and where they were yesterday at 8:30, shouldn’t it still be called terrorism no matter who did it and why, did you ride the subway this morning, did you get the alert on your phone at 10:30 telling you to be on the lookout for Frank James? (Because somehow not everyone got the alert, even though it’s supposed to go to everyone, like an Amber Alert.) Did you sleep last night? How are you feeling now?

Sigh. I am happy to know that James has been found and arrested. Why was I surprised to know he was found in the East Village? My surprise amused me because it was so odd. Maybe I assumed he’d find it easier to disappear in any number of other neighborhoods.

Now we all try to settle back into something like normalcy. I guess? Yes, I guess. For me, that means turning my attention back to the ghazals.

Yesterday’s poem came surprisingly (not surprisingly?) easily. Writing the post took much longer, a total reversal from the norm.

My little system — sampling different refrains and rhymes before I start writing — is helping, but it by no means guarantees ease or success. Having a theme in mind is, of course, the critical thing. And those have proven elusive. Tonight I had nothing. Total blank. I think my brain is tired.

But then I met a friend for dinner, an amazing, dynamic, beautiful Black woman friend, someone I met at my old job. We have taken a very surface, in-the-office friendship and begun to turn it into something real, and I’m so glad. There are always people I am so close with at work but then they fall away when one or the other of us moves on. I know that’s natural, but I hate it. Happily, that isn’t the case with every person I love at work. That would be awful. Some of my dearest friends are people I met through jobs.

So I thought about my lovely friend and how we’ve made a concerted effort to see each other regularly, now that we’re feeling safe to be out and about again. It made me remember an incredibly irksome motivational speaker I had to endure at a training years ago. Mixed in with the annoying jokes and BMOC energy, he talked about how we build and maintain important contacts, how we can’t just meet someone and expect the connection to stay strong with no work on our part. He said we should think of those relationships as empty barrels we’re trying to fill … using an eyedropper, told us to imagine how many eyedroppers of water we’d have to use to fill such a big container and how we’d have to be committed to staying on top of it if we hoped to fill that barrel … and each drip, drip, drip of liquid from the eyedropper was the effort we were committed to making to build a real relationship.

And, while I do have some friendships where our interactions are few and far between but the love we have for one another doesn’t waiver, of course that irksome man was right. Relationships are work, and we have to actually be willing to put in the time if we want them to continue. And of course I know this and knew it before hearing him say it, but at one point tonight my friend was filling our water glasses, and I thought of that eyedropper and thought yes, she and I were committed to doing the work to make sure we stayed friends.

And then I had a theme for my poem.


Each time we meet, we weave a thread -- connection.
Our laughter loud, our heartbeats deep, seal connection.

What makes the different, makes our friendship stay true?
There's work we put in, layers we peel -- connection.

We do and don't know each other's stories, secrets.
The denser the weaving, the more idea connection.

You see me well. I hope you feel my vision, too.
Being seen sets us on an even keel, connection.

And I, Stacie, am buoyed by warm, soft gratitude,
clink glasses lightly, cherishing real connection.

National Poetry Month 2022: the Ghazal

As I’ve done for more than ten years (what?!), I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April … and I’m saying that boldly, knowing that I’ve already failed. I couldn’t find my way through to a poem on Day One, but I’m determined to continue.

The “Ghazal” is the form I’ve chosen for this year. Here is the structure and a little backstory (thank you Poetry Foundation):

“Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, medieval Persian poets embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their own. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme. Each couplet ends on the same word or phrase (the radif), and is preceded by the couplet’s rhyming word (the qafia, which appears twice in the first couplet). The last couplet includes a proper name, often of the poet’s. In the Persian tradition, each couplet was of the same meter and length, and the subject matter included both erotic longing and religious belief or mysticism.”

Should be interesting!

2 thoughts on “Getting Back on the Horse

  1. “Relationships are work, and we have to actually be willing to put in the time”
    “There’s work we put in, layers we peel — connection.”

    That as they say is the rub. Beautifully said in post and poem.


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