I am a Writer
by Judith Poole

1975. I am at Star Market, placing an assortment of items in my cart. It is the middle of the day. Ordinarily I would be at work at this hour. A massive dose of prednisone had been prescribed a month earlier. My thoughts took off at the gate, soaring far into the ethers where we feel more at home. The supermarket is full of mothers with children, and other women who I assume to be mothers as well with older kids now sitting in orderly rows behind wooden desks bearing the initials of the generations who preceded them. Quite possibly they are being fed the same information from the same textbooks that were being fed to their mothers who line the aisles where I shop.

For weeks poetry has spilled out of me landing helter skelter on the floor and walls and occasionally on a piece of paper in front of me. I know it to be poetry because it is not prose, and because my heart beats in a certain way as the words wend their way out from the deepest recesses of that internal space. I think of maps of islands like Australia, with busy coasts and vast uncharted interior regions.

My focus these days is on what sets me apart, separating me, taking my perverse satisfaction in my familiar painful wounded isolation. I know myself to be like no fellow supermarket shoppers. I have failed miserably in a lifetime's attempt to become the consensus majority. Now I undertake an intense study of "other" to learn what I am not.

From out of the blue, a thought arises from nowhere to strike me on my noggin. Every one of these women pushing caged baskets of packages promising nourishing meals in moments could wield a pen without my knowledge. Perhaps at heart we are all poets. Well, maybe not everyone.

But surely more than just me. Something in that vast internal terrain shifted just enough to allow me the luxury to call myself a poet. I let this thought play between the hemispheres of my cerebral lobes before I let the word form. Slowly it sifts down deeper. I declare it to myself, and then out loud. I like how it feels on my tongue. "I am a POET!" I declare to no one in particular, and everyone in general. So much better than the myriad self-definitions that race around wild nipping me at my heels like packs of wild hyenas, jackals, and flocks of vultures.

From POET to WRITER is like hopping stones in a brook. It helps to have got a few things printed somewhere, even though that isn't what makes a Poet a Poet nor what makes a Writer a Writer. Declaring oneself a Writer is a way to tell others how one experiences the world, from a deeper place, or a more detached one, or just at its perimeter.

A writer is a Crone, a Sorcerer, a Wise Woman, an Alchemist, a Magician. Her raw material is everything. She has poetic license to see it her way, and to record it as she wishes. And in the doing, her power is enormous, for in the keeping of the record, the fabric is woven for the first time.

A writer needs no external permission for this declaration. No publisher, gate-keeper, critic, or expert can decide who is a writer. It is a self-selected club. We chose ink to flow in our veins over blood. We chose to see behind the seen and to keep our antenna divided equally between the muse and the "real" world unfolding before our eyes.


Click to see "Hug", "Pansy Beds", and "A Tale For Year's Ending"