As April- National Poetry Month approaches I remember how my love of poetry arrived through unusual means. When I was nine, my uncle brought over a box of books that he found rummaging in the dump (his favourite past time). One was a poetry book and like a scavenger looking for what I needed to survive, I discovered my first poem. It was about a man who becomes lost in thick fog and through an act of trust finds another who helps him find his way. The last two lines read, “I followed like a child, a blind man led me home.”
I memorized this poem and would recite it aloud at night much to the dismay of my younger sister who slept on the bottom bunk of the bedroom we shared.
At the time, something in me stirred deeply with the idea of being led by a blind man. This image seemed impossibly beautiful even as a child, and I retained those last lines in my mind throughout the years even though I forgot the rest of the poem. (Recently my sister Kathleen did some research and found ‘The Fog” by William H. Davies, this discovery thrilled me.)
Now I see the metaphor of someone blind leading the way as a way of approaching the act of writing or reading poetry. I believe we respond to words through a visceral connection, poetry often does not speak through the complicated pathways of the mind that wants to map clear the terrain that we are traversing. We find our way through a passage or verse by other means. Poetry speaks through our intuition, through the felt senses of our body. Writing becomes more than finding a perfect word that resonates with one clear note, it transforms into pure essence that connects directly to the heart. In this way, we arrive home. My young child self was able to see something in those words which kindled a relationship with poetry that has remained alive. At times in a thick fog, we can reach out and through surprising means and a sense of wonderment, find our way back to a place of knowing.
April has a few events planned for National Poetry Month. Take the opportunity to experience poems with the realization that you can arrive using another framework. Let go of the usual means and believe that you will find that central place. It can be a simple act of trust.