Finding the poetry in love affairs comes easily. The river as metaphor, the cry of the geese as wildness incarnate, the passion that bursts like overripe fruit upon the birth of a child, these I can revel in as easily as a dolphin riding a sun-drenched wave.
Tragedy, or the specter of it, lends immediately to elegance in words. Injustice awakens eloquence. Even certain small moments glow with universal meaning: two hands touch as both people reach for the pot of just-brewed coffee, the sunrise slanting orange and pink between the blinds, the trill of the birds lightly in the distance; the laughter, exuberant, of a small child who has spied a butterfly paused on a sidewalk crack; the nervous look on the face of a first-time Little Leaguer as dad and granddad look on; the baking of bread.
But where is the poetry in the small struggles, the ones that singly may be slight, but together overwhelm the way water eventually wears away even most stoic stone?
Where is the lyricism in checking a bank balance online to discover the $3 check I wrote went through right before my deposit cleared and now an overdraft charge has left me $22 poorer and that $22 blow means I now have no money to put gas in my empty-tank car so how are I supposed to drive to all the various places a responsible working mother type needs to go to?
And I can’t really expect a room full of strangers, or even friends, to suffer my complaints as I still have my health and my children’s health and a lovely home on the beach and a job, a job that even though it barely pays at least has good perks, and a husband who says I’m beautiful as often as I’ll let him and what’s $22 anyway when millions of people are starving and dying while my husband paints a sea dragon on my new custom-made surfboard a friend carved as a favor.
After all, I do know how good I have it with the kids and the husband and the house and the surfing and the lifestyle, but then again I also know the whole enchilada balances both on fate’s whim with regard to my luck and my own strained and rather questionable ability to accomplish absolutely everything work-wise and mom-wise and wife-wise and homemaker-wise that needs to be done every day to maintain the front I’ve so successfully established and this is what it’s like living on the edge of zero and this is why I can’t sleep.
Because I know the effects of that $22 loss only begin with the gas and will continue into the PGE bill and snowball onto the oh-so-inconveniently due car registration and wouldn’t I know my son needs field trip money for school today, right now, and so I sigh and write another check and pray that this week at least I get paid in time to make it to the bank before the check does and I wonder, again, what ever happened to the poetry in my life?