Slept a bit late this morning. Trying to “catch-up” on sleep, although I know that is not supposed to be a real thing. But it helped. I was dreaming when the alarm went off. And the morning kicked in. I’m trying to return to routines. A glass of water followed by a full yoga flow.

It felt good.

Maybe that is a good sign.

There is snow on the ground again, but I feel the weight of winter lifting. Something is lifting. I am afraid to look it square in the eye and question it.

It helps that I am excited about the wasp project. Feeling like it is alright for me to throw myself blindly into something that doesn’t quite fit a mold. I’m not sure that I have ever done that before. I have clung to molds as assurances. Who was it who said that there is no such thing as a failed sestina? There is a measure of safety in coloring within the lines. You can be sure that you do one thing right.

I suppose there is an irony in that I am playing with constrained poems while claiming to be coloring outside the lines. But I am designing my own constraints. Conceptually relevant. I don’t think that experimentation has to be arbitrary.

I am doing a lot of reading – online, and ordering what I can afford. Exciting publishers, that are new to me. Exciting – very niche – poets who are inspiring in so many ways.

I know I am late to the party. By that I mean, not only am I aware that I haven’t stumbled on anything “new”, but that I really thought that I had found my voice as a writer some years ago. But now it is like I’ve discovered I have a whole new octave to move around in.

I’m not saying the work will necessarily be good. And with no clear framework that defines what is at least technically “good enough”, I feel brave moving in this direction.

Well. I feel ambivalent at least. Because I have been here before. In the previous century, I was excited about the idea of hyperlink poems. While I’m sure I am not the only person who thought of it, I might be one of the few of those who did, who didn’t follow through. I played with video poetry for what felt like 10 minutes.

Fear of failure is a big deal. Fear of doing okay is a big deal. Fear of people saying, “Yeah, so? I have had that backbone-energy-confidence all along, so what took you so long?” is real: “Why do you care what people think?”

Well-adjusted, self-confident people are judgy as f-.

I think I have been cursing for two years as a way of learning not to care. Like a B-movie prisoner banging a metal cup over the bars of his cell. Like a Be-movie actor banging a metal cup over the bars of a piece of scenography. In character: totally method and “living in the role”.

It’s not a healthy approach to acting: it’s not a healthy approach to life.

This is my mid-life rebellion.

Yesterday a news update on the radio explained that hospitals are no longer going to report cases of Covid to the government. There’ll be no more daily statistics to follow. It’s as though they’ve decided that our participation in the pandemic is officially over – after two years and twelve days.

It’s difficult to know exactly what has changed these past two years. Two years older, some unavoidable milestones in any adult’s life, a major shift in biology, something of a creative crisis, something of a professional failure. Face-to-face with what were once “irrational fears” that actually came to pass. Well, not pass exactly, but taken up residence in the everyday. I am living with new shadows. Different kinds of secrets.

And understanding the value in that.

But sometimes while we are vigilant for what may be approaching from one direction, something else will creep up and bite us on the neck. In Europe, we are all living in the shadow of war, in the shadows of past wars. No secrets here. This bodyless, beating heart left on the stoop. Did you feel competent before? Adept? Useful?

Daily life goes on regardless. If not regardless, necessarily.

Life goes on after metaphorical deaths, after concrete endings. Sort of.

It has always taken so much effort for me to get out the front door. The pandemic ground me further into that introverted groove. And now even a planned phone call is difficult: a bit like levering a rock out of a trough and pushing it up a hill.

And we all know how that goes.

There has been a long list of reasons why I have not run in the mornings these past weeks. Why I’ve not kept a faithful yoga practice. And when the bones of your life begin crumbling, what happens shape of it? Of you? My sense of identity is becoming ever-more-misaligned with reality. It is painful.

Pulling myself together is an overwhelming task that I just can seem to begin. Starting over without the benefit of momentum. It feels unnatural. Forced.

Wrong somehow.

And I think I am afraid of what the resulting creature will look like. I am afraid of what it may need from me.