I repositioned a photo of my dad in a mirror over the fireplace in our den. It’s odd because I look at the mirror and see myself, and also see him in the corner, and I look at both of us with each of my eyes and see myself. Like in our dreams, everyone is us because that’s how we see the world.
Out the window, smoke curls like a genie freed from a lantern. It’s the time of settling in, of reckoning, and the night falls fast this time of year, this far north. I refrain from washing my hair on days I work from home; I don’t shave and I wear old clothes to feel more like myself, because I can.
I walk the neighborhood with the dog and think about what I really want to do, watching the pond through the chain-link fence, the patterns of frost, the dead grass. I think I’m more afraid of what I really want, so I do what I can that’s easy, instead.
No one makes money writing poetry. Although, I’d be terribly proud if my kids told their friends’ parents that their dad’s a poet. It’s a kind of middle finger I’d like to stab the air with, out here in the suburbs. But my balloon loses shape, and sags on a string.
I write about The Smiths; I watch videos of Morrissey onstage from my laptop. I try to find myself in the records and dreams I hatched years ago, marveling over the words in the fold-out album, on my lap, in my bed, waiting.
I wear the Kashmir coat I bought in 1986 that fits like a glove and makes me look like a professor, and it’s falling apart inside; got it second-hand for $10 from someone who died. I keep old movie stubs in the pockets and notes from my mom, like a witch gathering charms for a potion.
I prop myself up like a scarecrow here because that’s what you need to do if you say you write: it’s easy, right?
I’m stuck on the edge of our couch by the Christmas tree looking at an ornament of Tinkerbell who has the string stuck round her neck like a noose. She’s leaning on a glass ball with her hands out and her head up, smiling. That’s what I love about writing: gathering branches and dead things, putting them in a pot.