Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
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Invisible Mountains

I have a scattered muse, so when I write I spend my time arranging details from accumulated thoughts and images I jot down now and then. It starts incoherently, until I figure out why I put certain things together from the start. Why these objects, this place? Why did I write a note? My process is half analysis, half instinct. But I always trust my curiosity.

I shouldn’t say I always trust my curiosity. I wrote “Morphology” and “Offices of Grief” early in the COVID-19 pandemic when I was struggling to find meaning in my writing and the process of creating. It felt like I had no curiosity at all, and passivity never inspired anything. Writing these poems, I had to reach for things that resisted me, wrestle with my own attention. It felt futile, but I learned a lot from that.

December 1, 2020, I wrote that I felt like I was lifting a mountain with each poem, but the mountain is invisible, so no one cares whether I place it here or there, since it won’t block anyone’s view. With everyday monotony, crises, and exhaustion, I still feel the invisible mountain, but I’m not always lifting it. Sometimes it’s just in the distance. Sometimes I’m mining, one layer at a time, eyes shut in the dark. It won’t change the world—no one notices—but I know that every time it changes something in me to resist passivity and detachment by writing, finally, a poem.  

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