There are times when you spend hours, days, or more working on a poem. A poem that you tweak and re-write and struggle with. Then, there are the other times – when poems just happen. When it’s like you’re walking through a field, trip on something, and unbury it only to find that it’s something wonderful and new. And somehow it didn’t exist until you tripped on it (wrap your mind around that one!).
“There Comes a Time in Every Life” was one of those poems. I was driving home, and suddenly, it was there in my head. Line after line. No hesitation, no fumbling. It just appeared. Like I waved a magic wand. One minute, I was thinking about a hard situation and people’s reactions to it, and the next, I could practically see the poem take shape in my head.
Of course, I spent the rest of the drive home chanting it in my head over and over again because when poems just happen they tend to happen in the most inconvenient places. Places where giving them the right amount of attention or even writing them down is hard. Or impossible. Here are a few places where I’ve run into this issue.
- In the shower
- On horseback
- On a treadmill
- During a presentation in class
- Driving on the freeway
It hasn’t happened on a date yet, but I imagine it’s only a matter of time. With “There Comes a Time in Every Life,” it was the freeway – a fast-paced one with a lot of curves, ramps, and reckless drivers. Sad to say, even knowing how dangerous and stupid it would be, I was tempted to pull over long enough to write it down. I also considered getting off a few exits early to find a convenient parking lot.
This is where voice recognition software might’ve come in handy (very handy). But I, of course, didn’t have one. I decided to drive straight home and do my best to keep it in my head until I got there. Apparently, my brain didn’t think that was enough of a challenge. When I got about halfway home, still chanting the poem to avoid possibly forgetting any of it, my brain decided to “discover” another poem.
Did I mention that when poems just happen, they often come in multiples? Or in multiple stanzas?
It’s like when ideas attack. You never know for sure how big and ruthless they are going to be about holding you hostage. You could have a few lines to think about and miss 5 minutes of class. You could have a novel to think about and miss most of class. All in all, I guess I got lucky. I only had 9 lines to remember (well, 13, if you count the other poem, too).
And out of both poems that appeared, there was only 1 word choice that I went back and forth on, and it was in this poem. Can you guess which one? (Hint: It was a conjunction conundrum.)