Arguably, it’s the most inspiring time of the year. Especially once the early-season dust devils have huffed their way across that wide blue yonder and we can set our heads (and hair) upright again. That part of the season when the weather steadies up a bit and the flowerbeds fully commit to the lively listings of colorful skirts, wafting their scents about under our noses like the organic little herbal brothels that, at heart, they are, as we dodge the misguided and persistent affections of bees and the domestically violent possession of wasps. Spring. The changing light, the weather, the newness of all things falling out of winter’s natural dead grasp as if for the first time. Inspirational.
The thing is.
It’s nearly impossible for me to write anything of worth this time of year. Inspiration be damned.
No matter what my intentions may be when I set myself down to write, my efforts tend to end prematurely. And here’s why: there’s no need for me to find a new way of saying something when the world itself keeps burgeoning itself up into new shapes like a magician with a handful of strange handkerchiefs (some bearing some rather alarming and questionable stains). How can I compete? I mean, really, here I am trying to sketch out a few poems inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses and my teenaged obsession with dead rock stars and there, on my windowsill, is a purple bee. A purple f***ing bee. Nope. No competing with that at all. Best to just sit back and watch this marvel of insectitude do its thing. Because words can only emulate a heliotropic thorax, never actually become one. Not nearly as amazing, and always a poor imitation of the original experience. So I’ll wait until my windowsill becomes a barren, dusty strip of white-painted wood once again, and by then I’ve probably forgotten whatever it was that I meant to say about Jeff Buckley and Orpheus and how poppies really tie the whole thing together. And I’ll let myself be satisfied with that forgetting because, well, colored bees.
The problem is that this rousing season presents everything in such a ripe array of fullness that it outstrips human creativity with such delightful lushness that there aren’t any gaps to fill. And that gap between objects and ideas, those missed perfections and lingering incompletions, are where poetry tends to come crawling out of *this* magician’s pocket (strange stains and all). The generous seasonal overwhelm produces a sort of restlessness that doesn’t really garner productivity – I want to chase everything, and see everything, and touch everything, but have no desire to *inform* anything on a creative level or dissect it analytically. I don’t want to capture the essence of it or reproduce it; I want to roll around in it. (And let’s not forget those other biological springtime urges, the March Hare Madness that sends us leaping off of various barstools and into various beds. Because that’s what the bees are really all about, those scandalous scamps; the twirling of limbs and livery in frolicking surrender.)
But that sense of immediacy and instinct – isn’t that what poetry is all about? The perfect fleeting possession of a moment, no matter the form or structure or method? When I read a good poem, I feel exactly the same way I do when I see a purple bee on the windowsill: restless and exposed, connected, body composed in an irresolute stillness, fighting the urge to jump up and fail about with excitement. That sort of tuning fork feeling that seems to be on the cusp of all things in the springtime. Ironic, then, that this is when I have the most difficulty trying to write.
Or is it really? It could be as simple as this: it’s impossible to write a poem if you’re living in the momentary ecstasy of another one. That if what you’re observing, what you’re participating in, or whatever idea you’re contemplating is so complete in and of itself it can’t bear the weight of further interpretation. To force it would be like gilding that proverbial lily and all other euphemistic stand-ins.
And, understanding this wholeheartedly before the analytical mind can even grasp what is happening, the creative mind defers to an esoteric and nameless mastery, surrendering itself to the act of staring at colored bees.
Perhaps those moments of springtime distraction simply mark the witnessing of natural, grand poetics.