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Stories about children are cute but dangerous. Just like children.
“You doing?” a small friend of mine asked me when she was barely three. Over and over and over, she asked. She’d taken to following me around (her parents were visiting). She was like a friendly virus, permanently attached to knee-height.
“You doing?” she’d say
“I shaving,” I’d answer, slipping into her grammar like a drowning man. Or, “I making coffee.”
One day, washing up, and having just said, “I washing” in answer to her three-syllable question, I turned the tables. “You doing?” I asked her.
“I asking,” she said, easy as a curl.
She wasn’t trying to embody phenomenological existentialism, she was just answering the question, just noticing. She wasn’t even asking me to notice. I could, if I wanted. Her answer is not the answer to the what of poetry, but it’s part of it.
Sometimes to notice — to see beyond the judgment, attachment, demand, interpretation, or whatever other layer of weight I’m putting on a thing — feels a far thing from me. I wish for the clarity to say, “I asking” instead of saying, “I asking, but I know it’s annoying,” or, “I asking and I tired of asking.”
There I go again, into her language. She’s all grown up now. Probably mortified that this story still exists. I sorry.
Anyway, that’s the question this week:
What have you noticed?
Try to keep your reflection to a single simple sentence. What have you noticed? Look beneath and beyond any layers of judgment or meaning-making. Just share the simple thing you’ve noticed. I’m curious. I’ll read. I excited.
P.S. Poetry Unbound is back for Season 7 on the 22nd of May! There’ll be new episodes every Monday and Friday for 10 weeks. Follow us on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, or wherever you podcast your podcasts, the usual places or the unusual places. Made for you, with love, from all of us at On Being.
Poetry in the World
May 18: Poetry reading and interview in Sydney at Poetica Petit, with special music performance by Miriam Lieberman, plus an open mic session. 6pm-8pm. Tickets and information here.
Live Reading at Booksmith | San Francisco, CA
The good people at Booksmith are hosting a reading while I’m in town. I’ll be sharing from both Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World and my latest, Feed the Beast. May 29 at 7pm – I’d love to see you. Free admission, registration required. Details here.
Returning and Becoming Conference | Asheville, NC
I’ll be sharing poetry and thoughts at a retreat at Kanuga (near Asheville, NC) on June 13 (morning and evening) and June 14 (morning). Hosted at an Episcopal Retreat Centre, this conference is open to all. My sessions will examine poetry, language, challenge, and change. Details and registration here.