The tip of my pen scratches the surface of the paper, its sound echoing in the emptiness of my room. The blank page of my notebook hovers in front of me like a door that refuses to open to let in the golden light of new ideas. I try to write poetry, to come up with new ideas, but writer’s block has a tight hold on my mind, squeezing out all drops of inspiration.
I open a Goodreads quotes page and randomly scroll through the quotes, until I come across this quote by Michael Langley: ‘If I knew where poems came from, I’d go there.’ If only, I think, my eyes heavy with sleep, if only I could go to the world where poems were born and find new ideas there and overcome writer’s block… My eyes close.
A door appears before me, its oak panels gleaming. On it there is a placard which reads ‘The World Where Poems are Born.’ I almost run to the door, grab it open, and step inside.
I open my eyes, expecting to see a magical land with blue-tinged clouds raining ideas for poems, tall trees laden with ideas in the form of fruits, or the Greek muses preparing to give inspiration to artists, but I see none of this. Instead, I find myself looking at my ordinary, mundane world: my unmade bed with the comforter tossed over it, a stack of books piled next to the coffee mug on my desk, feeble rays of sunshine peeking through the haf-drawn blinds. I sigh. Perhaps there is no world of poems, after all. Dejected, I make my bed and prepare for the day ahead.
However, as I step outside my room and walk to class, I feel that something is different. Instead of feeling tempted to pull out my phone to check my texts, I find myself looking outwards, beyond the narrow sphere of my existence, at the world outside. Brief, fleeting moments leave a deep impression on my mind, seeming to stretch on like a never-ending road to the swirling stars of infinity. It is as if my senses have suddenly become attuned to the wild, blooming colors, sounds, and sights of the world and I find myself yearning to take it all in, to fill it up inside me, and to make something beautiful out of it.
As I walk into the lecture room, I scrape my knee and notice how blood blossoms on my wound, looking like a lonely chrysanthemum flower in the pale wilderness of skin. How pain spreads through my knee like an echoing music note pulsing through the hollow body of the bone. How our bodies are always making beauty out of pain, creating music out of aching white emptiness, making meaning out of sorrow.
I walk to the mess for lunch, Thinking Bout You by Frank Ocean playing in my headphones. The trees toss their green, lush heads as the wind whistles through them. The bare brown branches cut up the sky to reveal bare shards of brilliant blue. I catch sight of a few friends and smile and wave my hand. They wave back, their smiles looking like little crescent moons, their golden light warming the deep, cold darkness of my sky. How I missed those faces, those smiles, those hushed conversations we have in the back of class!
It is 6:15, and I am walking back to the RH after my class. October is upon us, and the weather has become much cooler. A few stars have begun peeking from behind the curtain of twilight, and the moon is full and glowing. Oh, the wind- how accustomed I had grown to the drafts of wind that blow in the walk between RH3 and RH4, but now I feel it anew: cold and piercing, its high-pitched song echoing in the hollowness of my ears, its tingling hand pressed into mine. It is in moments of solitude like this, when the boundaries between you and the world fall away, that you realize that you are never truly alone, that the world lives inside you, surrounds you, finds its way to you– only if you open your heart and let it in.
The elevator grinds to a halt, and I walk towards my friend’s room.
“I made these Taylor Swift paintings for you,” I say, showing her the paintings.
She smiles and hugs me. “I’ve got these brownies for you– I know you love them,” she says.
I smile, the warmth of brownies melting on the tip of my tongue, our favorite One Direction song lyrics floating in the background.
As I lie on my bed that night, I reflect on the poetry of everyday existence. It dawns on me that poetry is not just about putting beautiful sounding words on a page: it is a way of seeing, a way of living. It is a way of living in which instead of simply passing through the world, you let yourself feel it: its shapes and shadows, lights and colors, soft melodies and chaotic noise. You let yourself be pierced by the beauty of the world, allowing yourself to experience, fully and deeply, the complex, rich emotions that characterize life instead of insulating yourself from them. You let the world enter into your mind, weave your abstract emotions and thoughts into the physical reality you inhabit, to reach that beautiful, dark-light subliminal space where reality and imagination interact.
Poems do come from a special, magical place. And that place is your ordinary life, your mundane world. Once you start to look at the world in this way, the mundane becomes magical, and the everyday becomes poetic.
Crickets chirp in the distance, and a soft wind blows. Somewhere, in the depths of my mind, a door opens, and words flow onto paper. A poem is born.