Various and Sundry Poetry

the unrehearsed and unforeseen

There is only one way to begin. It requires opening the mouth and letting the words out one by one. Not the ones you’d rehearsed days ago, lying awake and over-alert at 3 o’clock in the morning, playing an impossible movie reel of unformed narratives, wispy stories so far from rootedness they couldn’t be held down, stories disassembling the moment they hit air. First you have to let these go, trot them out on the gangplank and point them seaward. Only then, empty of a trajectory of lines, can the necessary breath gather in your lungs. Nothing will come out the way you want. The room will be full of happy, colliding revelers. The music will be loud and careen through any available space, like spilled water on a kitchen floor. The bartender will come too quickly for your drink order. The line will be long and restless behind you. What you say will be imperfect. You will leave out the request for more ice, or light on the salt, or not in that tippy martini glass, please. No matter. The unrehearsed and unforeseen will arrive at the doorway of your lips. Language will come at you like jazz, like fireflies, like the sweet pickle you would have sworn was tart, like the late October snowstorm that disabled the power lines for days. How you long for dress rehearsals, official replays, schoolyard do-overs, but really, if you level yourself to the gift of the unknowable present, you wouldn’t be able to stand the repetition. The rawness moves you, emboldens you, humbles you all at once. If you knew how the ending turned out, you would lose your voice on the practice runs. Improvisation keeps you stretching and supple, permeable and soft as linen, the what-comes-after your great reward for all that sweet fumbling. Perhaps it will comfort you to know that perfect timing is both oxymoron and inevitability. What happens now could happen no other way, even the elephant thud of your footsteps. It is a dance no matter what. The plucky string release of song, tangled and unfamiliar though it may be. Let yourself sing. Let your muscles shoring back the syllables of your deepest truth grow weary of defense. Your throat is all flesh and forgiveness, a child, a yearning, a question mark, a fragile, faulty, flickering light at the end of an irreconcilable tunnel. There is only one way to begin. Feel your life shoulder through, impertinently, like a goat nudging a wind-broken fence, insisting on making itself known, crying its little heart out for freedom.