I am an intrepid decision maker, but sometimes my coping skills struggle to keep up with the fearless nature of my choices. The past several weeks I’ve been scrambling to acclimate to modern life.
When I lived at the Piedra Rahada I felt well organized when I knew what day of the week it was, rich when there was an extra 10 pesos for beer; thus, carrying internet on my body, honoring schedules, disposable cash and availability of products, have left me feeling rattled and unfocused.
Recently, I read an article about interpreting poetry. The author scrutinized and explained a poem line by line. I felt like was in 7th grade biology, a poor little frog, dead and spread eagled with pins before me. I thought, do people really do this? I prayed, please don’t tell me this is how poetry is taught. If so, it’s no wonder so few people read and honor it.
There’s a lot of poetry that isn’t immediately accessible, but during this last year I learned, by walking with poems, that the body will teach you. Thinking will not gift you a great understanding of poetry, the language is not a dead thing to be dissected. Reading and then going for a walk, letting the words roll around, saying them loud, imbuing them with breathe — gives them life. Then let yourself be distracted by the trees, or a fly or your life for a while, the poem will settle and you will not understand, you will know it, in the way that you should, not the way someone else thinks you should. I don’t think there was ever a poet who hoped their poem meant only one thing to all people.
It wasn’t coincidental that I choose to walk to memorize, the literary tradition of walking is long and well acquainted with poets. I was vaguely aware of this, but I didn’t start walking and memorizing because of it. It was a natural inclination .
When I went for my first couple of walks after my project was completed, I felt liberated. I didn’t have anything I had to do —just walk, enjoy the scenery, and let my mind ramble. But then I started to feel a little naked heading out on the path without a poem in my pocket. So I wrote one down, and I’m carrying it around, living with it and it with me, as I imagine I will, as long as I can write and walk.
I was correct in my assumptions about memorizing and reading. I am not the novice I was a year ago. I don’t know that my own poetry has seen the benefits yet, but I now know where to go, and how to get there.