I've known for years that when I start slogging through mental goo, mud, sludge, whatever, I need poems, my own and others. But somehow, negative thinking blocks that knowledge. For days now, I've gone about my business--read busyness--but under all the action is mental inaction. I'm clearing up the to-do list, slowly, and spending too much time with TV and computer solitaire. Neither one entertains me. They just fill the minutes, sometimes hours, when I don't know what else to do. Books have not captured me, much, though I finished Memoirs of a Geisha and liked it. Breakfast with Buddha has not moved me, though people have recommended it, and in other times, in other frames of mind, I too might love this book. Not this week. I thought about fall, becoming obvious in the foliage and the return of ducks--noisy, busy, wonderful--to the pond. But this doesn't explain anything. I've seen plenty of foliage, heard hundreds of ducks, and never felt they were omens of anything but a natural turn of the wheel.
Finally, it came to me. I haven't written a poem in weeks, and that's not good for me. I need to go off by myself, as my friend Michael would say, and sit on a rock somewhere, let my mind wander like a half-grown child. Maybe something will swim to the surface and I'll get that frisson of imagination that means a poem is coming together in the depths. It will start with a phrase, an image, a tickle in the brain. The first draft will be messy and out of focus, but if I write it over and over, letting it take shape slowly, that moment will come--YES! This is a glimpse of the world I've never noticed before. It may not, as we are wont to say, make anything happen in the larger sense. No one listens to poets but other poets and a few blessed readers, but it will change something in me. I'm off to pack a lunch, fill the dog's busy ball with kibble, and find that all important rock. I'll let you know if it works.