Poetry and hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things that get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.”
– AA Milne
I’ve been thinking about these lines since my friend Garrett reminded me of them a few weeks ago.
This is as good as any summary I’ve read of what my life is essentially about: going where life’s outrageous beauty can find me. Remaining open to the poetry that exists in every day. That sounds simple, or at least unequivocal: who wouldn’t want to be open? Who wouldn’t choose that?
For me at least, though, it’s not that clear, nor very simple at all. Going to where the poems can find me entails a great deal of pain. A couple of weeks ago, I was folding laundry on a rainy Sunday night. Matt walked in to find me sitting on the floor by the base of our bed, a blue t-shirt of Whit’s clutched to my chest. My face was streaked with tears. In alarm he looked at me and asked what was going on. I held the shirt to my cheek and looked at him mournfully.
“This is a baby Gap size 4T t-shirt. I remember buying it with Whit. He was home sick, and we went to Harvard Square in the afternoon, just to get some fresh air. He picked this shirt out.” Matt nodded slowly at me. “I won’t ever get that day back,” my voice caught in my throat. “And I won’t ever buy him a shirt from baby Gap. He is too big now.” I shook the shirt out, looking at the robot on the front. I could reach back and feel that day, turn it over in my palm, the memory visceral, real. But also: gone.
“Lindsey,” My husband shook his head.
“I know. Do you think most people get tearful when they fold the laundry?” I wiped at my face as fresh tears streaked down.
“No. I’m pretty sure they don’t.”
That is the poetry of life right there, isn’t it? The swift passage of the years, the brilliant, mundane, heartbreaking contents of a day, the blue robot tee shirt that contains in its soft cotton folds a memory of a long-ago day when my blond son held my hand as we climbed the Gap stairs. So much poetry. And so much heartache. The poems and hums can find me, there’s no question about it. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s not easy. It is never, ever easy.
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