Letter to a Poet


There is a section of your book that, as I read it, makes me squeeze my legs, crossed at the ankle. I clinch my legs so tightly that they lift straight out in front of me. I sit up from a reclined position. I hold my breath.
Then I hear Dr. Bogomilov rattling papers outside my room, and I throw your book across to my purse. I wipe my face dry, try deep-breathing, and start reading everything in the room that I can – posters on Heart Disease and of the Peripheral Arterial System. One says Be Aware of your Heart Health. I notice – oh, the tissue paper I’m on has little heart  advertisements on it. . . .  Be normal. Be normal. Be normal.
Dr. B walks in, and I lose that guilty feeling of having been in there naked and balanced on my head.
Do not get caught reading poetry. Do NOT let people see you turn inside out. 
I go to the co-op for a salad. I pay $14 for it – because, after talking about my heart, I feel like eating purple – beets, cabbage, blueberries.
Is this being a poet? When you feel like eating purple? Is this why only poets read poetry? It is not high falootin to want to eat purple and then to write about it. It is not boring. But it is very strange. Not more strange than say for example the people who wear purple on their bodies for their favorite team, but it is just strange in the way that people are strange.
Do you think that is why people like or dislike poetry – our strangeness all outside in the open?
There is a breeze today in Fayetteville, everyone sitting outside the Co-op is beautiful, and my salad is good. All I can think is: A whirling medallion goes like a penny on its side in the center of a wind chime, and it makes no sound. 
Brave, brave Poet, I know you do not know what spins around inside the rest of us, but when you write, sometimes it makes me spin so fast that the whole of me shakes, and I can make music, too. 
Don’t you wish that more people read poetry? Is there a way to not scare them off? 
With very much love,

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amberhaines
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5 Comments

Nicole
Reply June 11, 2008

Do you ever read Billy Collins? He believes that poetry is this elite club, and poets only write for other poets, so he tries to write for everyone. I like to have my students read him, so they can change their minds about poetry. What's your take on him? I think non-poetry readers should always start with Billy. Then they'll crave more. A world of poetry readers! Imagine!

I will teach your poetry next year if you let me. :)

melody
Reply June 11, 2008

beautiful.

karalaney
Reply June 11, 2008

you amaze me amber haines.

Anonymous
Reply June 11, 2008

i love you!
b

The Clarks
Reply June 13, 2008

The "rules" of poetry frustrated me when I was younger so I told myself I hated poetry. I'm also impatient so trying to figure out what an author was trying to say frustrated me to no end. I think if I had gone further I'd maybe have broken through to the place where poetry is more. I hear beautiful things, but words can't describe the heaviness of it. I wanted to eat the color aqua the other day, (seriously), but sadly, there aren't any foods in that color. :) I get what you are saying!

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