Writing doesn’t happen in a straight line, at least not in my experience. Some poems are like slipping on the ice; others like digging out of prison with a spoon. Most poems fall somewhere between these extremes.
My first book, The Wind and the Shadows, has at least four poems of the “digging out of prison with a spoon” variety. One of them is, “I Know the Moon.” My best guess is that I started writing this poem in 2008. It dramatizes an experience I had but I couldn’t get past the first six lines. I worked at it for I don’t know how long before putting it on the shelf. Every few years, I’d run across it again while looking through old notebooks; I’d work on it a bit but still couldn’t get further than the first six lines.
In 2020–twelve years later—I finally finished it. I still can’t tell you how, except that it came together after a lot of praying, staring at the page, and re-writing. This isn’t even the longest I’ve spent trying to finish a poem. There are a couple (also in The Wind and the Shadows) that I didn’t finish for about 20 years.
These marathon writing experiences have taught me not to give up on poems, just to put them away for awhile. I’m glad I didn’t give up on “I Know the Moon,” and I hope readers will agree it was worth the wait.
I Know the Moon I know the moon. There’s a man in it. The cow jumped over it. The moon is a planetary satellite reflecting the sun... Tonight, a faceless, pallid orb floats in the edgeless obsidian vacuum surrounding everything and diffusing into me as the blood drains from my face and I struggle to breathe in a world stripped of stories.