November and poetry. I named my only stuffed animal November; I don’t know why. I became aware of him when his eyes were scratched out and his rabbit ears were torn from their metal wires. I remember accepting on some level that I had done this before I was I, before I remembered anything, and I remember feeling that I would never love November as much as when I didn’t know I loved him and didn’t know anything the way I did then, feeling the way I felt then and trying to see myself scratching out his eyes in love.
The memory of writing poetry is as dark as when I left school tonight just past six, gusty and cold as January night. I walked past the bike rack I had given up a month ago, and I got in my Sable wagon. Something electrical happened to it yesterday. The radio and clock don’t work, half the dash lights are out, and the heat and defroster are frozen on, full blast. I was warm by the time I stopped at the strip mall to pick up the pizza and subs. I won’t need to get any of it fixed for a while, though I miss the radio. I must have hit the knob six times during the five-minute drive home.
November we write poetry, mostly as muck we shape later. We aim to make a mess, I say. Don’t worry about spelling, poetic forms, rules of any kind. Some days it’s work, but some days you’re unconscious. I remember a college day playing ball in Blow Gym, and shot after shot falls; I steal the ball and race for a lay-up, three guys behind me, but I stop and do this jumper at the end, the three guys flying by me and hitting the wall. I don’t remember it going in, but I remember knowing it goes in and being happy for the knowing and not seeing, for the forgetting that makes memory. One guy, a real gym rat, pats me, says, “It’s a good thing you pulled up ‘cuz we were coming down on you.” That day made the other days all right.
Moving from desk to desk this week, I pushed through a hundred and twenty writer sketchbooks. I promised not to read them but only to count the pages and finger the dog-ears. Show me shop floors strewn with shavings and sawdust. Brown leaves blown back through black afternoons.