Poetic Dictation

December 6, 2008

Thank you for your kind comment, Cris. I love poetry and, for me, the times when words flow most freely — the times when I have to sit right where I am and put pen to paper — these are the times when I feel poetic. It is as if a poem is already formed and I am taking dictation. I have a clear memory of places where I was compelled to stop, sit and write: in the shade of a tree in residential St. Paul, MN, on a bench at the Mall of America, in the tall grass of a meadow in rural Wisconsin).

My most poignant experience of poetic dictation happened for me from a dream state: It was early morning, when dreams are most intense. In this particular dream, my sisters and I were gathered and the eldest of us was reading a letter from my mother. (In reality and in the dream, my mother had died over a year prior.) As my sister read the letter, I held the words in my mind and, as I began to wake, sleepily grabbed my notebook and took dictation. Here’s the message my mother, a very traditional woman in her life, gave to her daughters:

Move on girls. Don’t get caught up in what others say you should be or do. Just move on. Be free. The distracting voices will work at you. Just move on. Love, but stay detached. You are not those voices. You have your own voices. Yours are quiet, but wise and capable of silencing the masses, of inspiring awe. Move on girls. Your time has come.

Thank you, Cris, for bringing these memories to mind.

Practical note: I am very grateful that I had pen and paper available when the words came. Anne Lamott suggests keeping index cards and a pen with you at all times. I like tiny notebooks when I’m out and about, and I always have a journal by my bed.

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