What I Learn From Poetry
By Emily McGee
Jiyuritsu I (free form haiku - yes, this is a real thing)Rotten leaves coat
a carpet to
Haiku IShadows spread deeply,
devouring my footsteps,
gulping at the ground.
Jiyuritsu IILily pads on the pond.
No, it is ice, frozen
Haiku IIFootsteps in the snow;
and backlit trees at sunset.
Winter glows today.
I live in Atlanta, Georgia now. There are no frozen ponds. There are no snowy footsteps. That's why finding these poems, which I wrote in high school, was such a joy. They took me back to a place where we wore snowsuits under our Halloween costumes and where the sun set at 4 pm in the winter. Long shadows, backlit trees, and a crisp coating of ice signaled winter in Maine.
Not only do these poems remind me of growing up in Maine, they remind me of why I love poetry. In a poem, especially in a short poem, every word counts. I am amazed at both the stories that writers tell and the images that they create through just a few carefully selected words. As a writer, I want my short stories, my blog posts, and even my work-related writing to be that precise.
I don't think I could write those poems today. I've been gone too long. I can only picture the rotting leaves and the frigid air when someone else, or my past self, paints that picture for me. My poems today would have to be about humidity, or the rush of traffic, or the thick layer of pollen that has settled on my windowsills. But I'm glad I still have those poems, because no matter where I am, I can read them and imagine winter in Maine. And even though I don't write poetry any more, I still read plenty of it. I read poetry because it teaches me to be a better writer and because it allows me to glimpse another place, or another life.
Emily E. McGee loves to read, write, and travel because these activities allow her to imagine other people's lives. She writes about the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of life as a trailing spouse at One Trailing Spouse (www.onetrailingspouse.com). You connect with her on twitter (@EmilyEMcGee) or on facebook (www.facebook.com/emily.e.mcgee)