I wait a bit for my daughter to join me this morning and we go up to the old Medfield State Hospital property with the dogs. She’s listening, I’m talking the whole way, practically. It’s a good catch up, after she’s been away for a week, and she listens intently to what’s been going on in my world. The sign of being listened to well: all my sharing leads to an insight or two I would not otherwise have gained. Before going out, I transcribed some voice notes I took two days ago on a new poem. Tomorrow I’m going to a poetry workshop to which we are asked to bring a poem about illness. I don’t have one – yet. After transcribing the notes, I feel a sense of promise in the material. Later, indoors after my walk, I’m eager to get to the writing, but, today, there are many distractions, some meetings to attend and e-mails that have to be written. In the afternoon I have some time to focus. I have re-read an essay I remember reading decades ago, by Virginia Woolf, because it was so compelling. Slowly, line by line, the poem about a 10-day silent meditation retreat I went on about five years ago begins to emerge. And, yes, the bout of the Hong Kong flu I experienced about fifty years ago. Strangely, there is a relationship between these two events, and that’s what I’m trying to discover, and reveal, in this poem. It’s a very rough start, and I hope I will wake tomorrow into eagerness to continue.
You can download the pdf of this entire essay here.