Last night my friend Emily visited Charleston and all of us went to Friday night trivia at the Pour House. I proceeded to explain to Em how, this week, I finally wrote a poem that I've been waiting to write for months. Em is not a poet, but I knew she'd find the story behind the inspiration interesting.
A couple of months ago when the weather was still scorching hot, they tore down the original Harbor View Elementary School in my neighborhood. It was a creepy sight for a good few days--bits of building already gone, the parts still there not at all a sufficient reminder of happy elementary-age kids learning how to read and do arithmetic. I was inspired by the building being torn section by section, and the meaning behind it, but try as I might, I could not capture my feeling on paper.
Until the other day, when I visited Facebook and, out of the blue, saw where one of Emily's best drinking buddies just entered a relationship.
We probably won't see as much of that guy anymore, I thought to myself. And if we do, it won't be exactly the same.
Then...BOOM!!! It was like a thunderbolt of inspiration over my head. I couldn't get the words out of me quickly enough. And the poem that erupted from my head was about Harbor View Elementary! Most peculiar, I thought. How would seeing a new relationship on Facebook cause me to find the inspiration for that poem I'd been dying to write for months?
Inspiration is like that. Now before I start getting a bunch of boos and hisses about the craft of poetry and how the craft is what truly matters (which is not something I'm arguing) I still maintain that the first inkling of a poem, the moment that tickles you enough to make you pull a notebook or computer out, is mysterious. All I can do in preparation for this mystery is be open to it, and not let good lines escape out of laziness or lack of convenience or whatever.
The Harbor View Elementary poem is now one of my personal favorites, and if I had ignored the funny detour my inspiration caused, I would not have it.