Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
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Block by Block, Line by Line

I’ve heard that many people do their best thinking in the shower. I do my best thinking pushing a stroller. If you live in my neighborhood, you’ve probably seen me talking to myself as I steer down one block and up the next. You might have seen me stop to type furiously into the Notes app on my phone. Or you might have seen me trying to dictate while still pushing the stroller with my forearms, drifting into lawns as though walking off a night of heavy drinking. This is how I write poems, or rather this is how their discrete images and metaphors come to be. Later, when my son is in bed for the night, I scroll through my notes, deciphering half-formed thoughts and incorrectly autocorrected words. If I’m lucky, a poem begins to reveal itself.

Although I had written several poems before my son’s birth, I only seriously picked up the task after his arrival. This was a purely selfish decision. Amid work and family, writing is something that is only mine. I write to document emotion. I write to cope. I often find myself mixing humor and pain on the page, which I’m certain is a coping mechanism. However, it’s also in this habit that I achieve the most honesty. There’s nothing quite like having a baby to lay bare the unnervingly thin line between joy and pain, between wholeness and brokenness.

In many ways the image of me pushing a stroller, weaving through lawns and snaking between blocks, accurately conveys how I write and parent. In both endeavors I am a beginner. I fail and succeed as a daily measure, uncertain at all times precisely where it is I’m going but arriving there nonetheless.  

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