Poetry & Words

It takes courage to be an essayist.

It takes courage to be an essayist, to wake up every day with the resolve to tack enough damp words to paper until some stick. I don’t have that kind of courage, because I don’t take the time to gather words in the morning dew. I don’t stoop down and collect any for myself. I hand out words along with stacks of folded laundry and spoonfuls of spaghetti sauce, but I don’t collect them. I grade them, sort them, translate and even barter them, but I keep none.

It takes courage to keep the words.

Letters rain down. I divert them into crates, assemble some for sale and distribute the rest, but the most beautiful ones lie neglected, heavy, unswept in the corners even as I sweep away dust.

“While the novelist is banging on his typewriter, the poet is watching a fly in the windowpane.” – Billy Collins

I wash the windows, make the beds, and clean the toilets.

Three flies buzz on the windowpane.

Perhaps the words aren’t even mine.

Perhaps it is a sin I hoard them, unused. Perhaps they’ve been entrusted to me, and neglecting their care is a kind of waste, a kind of prideful selfishness dressed up as humility.

It takes courage to be an essayist, to wake up every day with the resolve to tack enough damp words to paper until some stick.

1 thought on “It takes courage to be an essayist.”

  1. Similarly, from Charles Dickens… “Prowling about the rooms, sitting down, getting up, stirring the fire, looking out the window, teasing my hair, sitting down to write, writing nothing, writing something and tearing it up…”

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