Thursday, October 13, 2005

Prelude to DRIVE

I'm typing this from the hotel (Hilton Garden Inn on the Hill) lobby business room in Washington, DC. It's cold and the desk is too high. I feel like I'm 13 years old again and the world is too big and I'm not Alice anymore.

My "debut" of DRIVE is tomorrow at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. I was to spend the day today in the Library of Congress archives searching for the lost "Conversations With Elizabeth Douglas" aka Memphis Minnie. I'm nervous. My book arrived this morning. The hotel lobby guy apologizes profusely for not delivering it to my room but for my "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. I slept in late having stayed up most of the night. I spent the whole day reading my book. The last I looked at it, much less read it, was the day I mailed the final galley. I intend to type up the stack on my scanner, a long list of papers & poems with the manuscript on the bottom where I left it. I don't know how to describe this feeling. That's why I'm typing. Such a long long time to make a book. Such a strange 5-headed creature bearing my name. My child and not-child that will follow me for the rest of my life.

The book is gorgeous. Thank you, Bryce! It feels good, like a book. (Is that silly? It's silly, this feeling.) I want to stop people on the street and thrust it front of them and say, YEA! My Bookie! My bookie! But I don't. I maintain. I look at it askance like a new mother peering into the stroller: Tell me, stranger. Is it just me or is this a beautiful child? All babies are beautiful. All books are strangers. This one holds a strange beauty. Poetry, not like a novel, the lovely step-sister who is just outside of inheritance.

I spend all day (it takes that long!) reading the words I wrote, some 25 years ago. The last poem in BIRD AVE, for Sandra Cisneros, makes me cry: "Save me/ from a stupid life,/ I prayed. "Leave me/ anything but a stupid life."/ And that's poetry.

This is anything but a stupid life -- at 51. Thank you, poems. For these fresh lived tears in a hotel lobby for which someone else has paid. I owe you one.


Blogger Reb said...

Sorry I'm going to miss your debut -- but I'll be in Pittsburgh visiting family. Best wishes!

13/10/05 15:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rain is keeping me island bound,
but my espiritu will be in D.C.


Diana M. Delgado

13/10/05 19:33  
Blogger Artichoke Heart said...

Congratulations on the new book . . . it looks wonderful! And I hope you have a marvelous debut!

13/10/05 22:55  

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