Tonight, as my "to do" list fights with my "people I seem to be letting down lately" list for the top spot on my inbox and the television speaks only sadness, I took a break. From all of it. I took a break holding a Spire cider in one hand and Billy Collins or rather the poetry of Billy Collins in the other. I took a break sitting on my front step as day turned into dusk pulling on the hem of evening's skirt. I took a break from all of it. I took a break with a cider and Billy Collins. I took a break from grief as I skipped over poems that called to me with titles like "The Dead" and "The Afterlife."
I allowed laughter in.
I took a break from it all and spent time with laughter as I read "The Hunt" four times to paint the described landscape in my mind. I let this landscape where Noah Webster and his assistants hunt a new word become, for a moment, my landscape. I took a break with laughter. I took a break. From all of it. I took a break from fixing when I turned to "Going Out for Cigarettes" and nestled inside these words:
Let us say this is the place where the man who goes out
for cigarettes finally comes to rest: on a riverbank
above the long, inquisitive wriggling of that line,
sitting content in the quiet picnic of consciousness
I took a break and let Billy Collins remind me.
I took a break sitting on the front step as dusk settled over the stretching northwest skyline. I took a break. From all of it. I took a break to breathe in nature and words. I began to breathe in every word and then found myself suddenly chewing. As I reread "Metamorphosis" I was suddenly chewing as though if eating "If Kafka could turn a man into an insect in one sentence perhaps he could turn me into something new" and "Not that I am miserable, but I could use a change" would cause the page to turn and I would find myself away. From all of it. From the fighting, stretching lists. I even contemplated consuming the ant that crawled across the words as though his ability to walk on the actual letters would make the words grow inside me and root.
I took a break. From all of it. I took a break and watched the ant crawl across page 70 then 71 and toward the back cover. I took a drink then gave the ant freedom with the understanding of safety from me and Kafka and Collins.
I took a break. From all of it. I took a break with cider and Collins and dusk turning into a warm breezy August nightfall. I took a break to remind myself. I took a break to let poetry remind me of myself.
I took a break. From all of it. I took a break until I could no longer read the words in the dimming light.
I took a break to remember.
I took a break to remember me.
Poems mentioned are from Questions About Angels by Billy Collins. To read "Metamorphosis" in its entirety, click over to this Washington Post article. Note that the poem ends right before the last paragraph (the last word of the poem is face); this isn't clear in the online layout.
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