The poem that I posted over the weekend is the first poem that I've written since Mom's Creative Writing class in 10th grade. I'm not really a poem person—for the last couple decades, I've been a very concrete, spell it out sort of person. I'm a scribe, telling stories I've experienced, evoking people, places and things that exist, that I have known. I am not a novelist, creating worlds that exist solely in my imagination. There's a lot of poetry that I don't really understand, and for the most part I'd really rather be told the point and move on. Poetry seems to be, to some extent at least, a blending of the two modes—documentation and embellishment—and I really haven't seen the point, up until last Friday, when I came radiating out of my bone scan (no results until this coming Thursday) and couldn't leave the clinic until I'd jotted down a rough draft. I sat there on the bench in front of the second floor elevator, digging through my mental thesaurus, weighing grams of meaning against milliliters of implication, rhyme against alliteration, meter against free verse. My recent trip to Cabo Verde and more specifically Santo Antão, with its soaring mountaintops and crashing seashores, and our attendance at Avatar last Tuesday (Science Center 3-D IMAX woo), had towering heights and tumbling depths and swooping flights all topmost in my mind.
And this is the landscape of my life, pinnacles and pits, and the journeys between. I'm not living in Kansas.
I'm on one of the "vertiginous flights" right now, with three scans behind me and one ahead of me tomorrow, then a couple days to wait before I find out if I'm landing on a mountaintop or in a deep valley, or if maybe I just have to hike around a bit. And for the last couple days, I've felt it physically. My head feels just a little heavy, and my body's not yet used to hauling around the extra weight, so if I shake my head or turn too quickly or nod and walk at the same time, I feel a bit at sea. I had both eyes dilated today, too, (it's always something), and that definitely did not calm down the gentle, almost imperceptible motion of the earth. I've also been sleeping with my window open, just above my head, and my left ear is plugged, so there are tangible physical explanations for my perceptions. But that doesn't make the spiritual explanation less valid.
I had a dream this morning, between Ian getting up at 7:15 and me crawling out of bed at 8:30. I was on an island somewhere in the Mediterranean, and tons of people were around. I knew a lot of them (Cousin S and her mom, Dr Jason's dad K, my mom, the kid I went to prom with senior year of high school, among others), and interacted with some of them, but what I remember most clearly is this:
I was standing on a clifftop, a black, volcanic, vertical cliff with lots of little ledges and handholds, maybe 100 feet high—an awesome place to rockclimb—above a clear blue sea. The water was so clear that I could see perfectly tumbled lava boulders through the waves washing back and forth. My father was next to me, and then in one motion he leapt and dove off the edge of the cliff. I was petrified and ran to the side to watch him enter the water, sure that I'd see him dash his brains out on the submerged rocks, which were too clearly visible to be deep enough to avoid. He entered the water without a splash, his flexed feet burbling through with a small eddy at the end. He swam off to shore, completely unharmed. I found myself midway down the cliff face, holding a rope and kind of rappelling backwards, cautiously, carefully easing my way down to a place where I felt I'd survive the fall. About 10 feet above the surface of the water, I closed my eyes, screwed up my courage, and dropped in feet first.
The water was delicious. Clear and cool and buoyant and gentle, the rocks deep down and interesting, sunlit. I woke up before I could climb the cliff and try again, but I wasn't afraid of the leap anymore.
What I wish is this.