Poems are like snowflakes
Two years ago, I started making YouTube videos. We’d had some spectacular sunsets and I was determined to freeze them in time. After many mosquito-ridden encounters on our back deck, I learnt how to edit them by adding music, stabilising and then slowing them down in order to draw out their magic! I’d watch them again and again, mesmerised by their beauty and quite chuffed by my ability to ‘create art’ without really trying.
Growing in confidence, I started recording kookaburras, lorikeets and even the slightly menacing sulphur crested cockatoos with their predilection for eaves, beams and railings! Perusing others’ efforts and the traffic they garnered, I saw myself basking at the bottom of a rainbow, pot of gold in hand. Several months later, when no adds had been attached to my videos and the pitiful number of ‘views’ were all mine, I realised that perhaps my clips were a tad more amateurish than I had imagined, as were my marketing skills!
A few months later I finally bit the bullet and joined a writers’ group which I’d wanted to do for a long time but just hadn’t had the courage. Study, work and life in general had gotten in the way and to boot, I wasn’t very well. So, with a little bit of trepidation, I trudged along to my first meeting and was transfixed. A lecture on memoir writing dominated most of the session, followed by many of the members’ stories, which were heart-warming, enchanting and deeply inspirational.
They asked me to write a Christmas poem for December’s workshop and I hesitantly agreed. I recalled penning one or two in high school, but none that I was proud of, unlike some of my creative writing, which I still read when I get the chance. As such, the idea of writing an ‘old school’ rhyme to be read aloud and critiqued made my stomach churn. Unbeknownst to me however, my subconscious had begun tinkering away and sitting at the kitchen bench one day, I began to scribble.
Memories of a kookaburra perching in a gum tree flooded back and I hoped with all the neurons in my brain that I could do him justice. In the end, it was a very simple poem, but one I feel captures his regal beauty and the poignancy of that moment. After that, I was on a roll, swimming with mermaids, swirling with ballerinas and being abducted by cave dwelling kings! Weaving stories with words took mental gymnastics, a willingness to ‘let the dust settle’ when I struggled for inspiration and non-stop tweaking, but the benefits vastly outweighed any of these challenges.
I felt energised, inspired and satiated and realised that at long last, the work I’d produced was worth publishing. I’d written travel diaries, plays, short stories and many, many articles, but knew deep down they were dull rags to these rhymes. In addition, the recognition that poetry is self-similar yet utterly unique, just like snowflakes, our galaxy and the humble broccoli helped me to understand why verses sung are so spellbinding and powerful.
Like the rocking of a cradle, poems lull us, filling us with peace at a deep, cellular level. This motion is in concert with the patterns of the cosmos and is therefore a balm to our spirits as we wrestle with this troubled, unpredictable and arbitrarily cruel world. As singing is to speaking and dancing is to walking, poetry is to prose, allowing us to step into a parallel realm where anything is possible and healing, on a profound level can occur. Moreover, as Einstein so eloquently put it: ‘The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. ‘