empty hive frames
and life given over
to this shiver
of a moment
what you love
This 19 word poem is one of my favorites written for Tupelo Press' 30/30 Project during December. I wrote it close to the end of the month, taking images from older poems that didn't quite make it on their own. (Ironically, two of those poems were recently accepted with three others for publication later this month in AEQAI's column "Art For A Better World" aeqai.com). I wrote it out of some reflection on what writing a poem a day was doing to me.
In order to get good Tupelo honey, a bee colony is stripped of all its stored nectar just as white blooms begin to appear on the Tupelo tree. The keeper then gives the bees clean boxes with combs in which to deposit the fresh Tupelo nectar. When the Tupelo honey production is complete, it must be removed before it can become mixed with other nectar varieties. Timing is critical, and years of experience are required to produce quality Tupelo honey.
For me, writing a poem a day for 30 days and this process for producing a fine, pure honey have some things in common. Starting the day with a blank notebook page and a pen was for the most part freeing. I knew I wasn't writing something ready for submission for publication in the usual sense; I had merely agreed to share a first draft with a larger group than usual. And as the month wore on, the quality of these drafts improved-- at least for the most part. Now I have the work of looking carefully at each one, deciding which will sweeten with more crafting, which have images worth keeping for use another time, which can just be released---totally removed from the hive.
Giving myself over to this process, trusting it even on the days I felt totally "stuck", has grounded me as a poet. It's only recently that I've begun to call myself "poet" and to say that my work is writing. After this month, I find that I really mean it when I say "I cannot not write".
And it is with gratitude for Jeffrey Levine's vision and generosity, the gentle guidance through the month from Kirsten Miles, the daily attentiveness to the poems by Marie Gauthier, the careful attention to the fundraising aspect of the project by Sarah Williams, the support from friends and family, and the bottomless patience from the love of my life and partner, that I walk away from this experience knowing that it cannot be repeated and will not be forgotten. It is a sweetness that will be laced through everything that I write.