Early one recent morning as I was wandering the internet, looking for something that mattered, I stumbled across a poem written twenty or thirty years ago by someone mourning the death of a reclusive writer. The poem’s theme struck a chord at the time but, as sometimes happens, I failed to make note of the details. I don’t know the author nor the title of the poem. It wasn’t the words that moved me, but the image they painted. Well, I guess that says it all; it was the words, indeed.
It was an image I have had in my mind since a somber visit to the Texas coast a few years ago. One year to the day after the death of my sister, a group of my family members and I drove to Galveston, Texas to celebrate her life by fulfilling her wishes. We waded into the Gulf of Mexico. We opened the crematorium’s heavy-duty plastic bag that served as a temporary urn containing my sister’s ashes, and waded into the water, dispersing them in the water. The air temperature was a cool 55 degrees, which felt a bit cooler, especially with the breeze, but the water was much warmer. Tears flowed freely, though we didn’t want them to. But we had no say in the matter.
That image, that memory, prompted me to write a poem about the experience just a few days ago. I read it last night during Wednesday Poetry Night at Maxine’s in Hot Springs, along with a couple of others.
As I considered the other poetry I heard last night, it occurred to me that, sometimes, we try to convince ourselves we can be more than we have the capacity to achieve. My poetry is good enough for me, but it doesn’t approach the quality and depth of some of the people who read their work last night. I have to accept that I dabble in poetry; other people put their hearts and souls into it. I thought I did, and maybe I have, but I just don’t think it carries the same weight as the stuff I heard last night.
So, as I consider the ashes of my sister, the ashes we poured into the Gulf of Mexico, I think it’s reasonable for me to come to grips with the fact that my poetry may be substantial to me, but it has the weight of ashes compared to the work emerging from people with true talent.
Life is what it is. I may be investing my passion in the wrong places. Certainly, I know I am in some circumstances. Time to reassess and redirect, perhaps.