Tuesday October 3, 2006
I found myself to be close to heartbroken this morning when I assembled the grass strimmer, took it out, and trimmed a three-foot strip. The darned thing is too heavy for me; I could feel my spine starting to complain, and threaten, and I was huffing and puffing like Billy the Steam Engine. So, I sighed, cleared up the loose grass, cleaned the machine, and put it back in the garage. I’d really hoped I’d be able to have the grass patch completely trimmed by the time Graham comes home Sunday or Monday.
If it had been the weather that stopped me I’d have accepted it with good grace. It wasn’t the weather, though—it was fine and dry long enough today for a fit and healthy man or woman to finish the job in one hit. No, it was my poor old beat-up body that stopped me and for once I found little grace in me to help me over my failure.
And then, as if to rub it in, when I got back indoors to mumble my discontent into a mug of coffee, darn it if I didn’t find my throat starting to burn as if I had the precursor of a cold.
Well, there’s not a lot I can do about a worn out spine other than learn to live with it, but I do know how to treat the start of a cold. I had a light lunch, popped a couple of aspirin, and took myself off to bed with a hot rum, lemon and honey toddy. I slept solidly right through to seven-thirty and woke feeling a little heavy but with all traces of sore throat and imminent cold completely gone. I hope.
I took my poem out once more, gave it a good shake, and dry-tongued my way through it. Not ready yet. Generally a poem that so stubbornly resists my efforts to give it some kind of final form is destined for the big box where I keep things that I can’t tame. Not always, though. Sometimes, just sometimes, the thing stops struggling and allows me to groom it into a respectable entity. Knowing that is what keeps me working, along with the conviction that it’s not product that counts with poetry, it’s process. Now and then you get a half-way decent product but without the process there’d be no product, no poems at all. Besides, there’s nothing quite so satisfying, so engrossing, as working on a poem. Time stops, all other concerns fade away, aches and pains disappear, and the coffee mug grows cold. I like that.
It wasn’t so bad a day, then, and I finish up feeling fairly content. All process and no product. Not so bad, really.