On My Birthday: “I Write for Me”

It is my birthday and I scan the New York Times’ archives for what happened on this date in 1951. I’ve done this before, though never making copies of the front page. It would always be there –  history.  But now I have to pay for it,  not a lot, but I balk. Just show me the damn page and I promise I’ll never darken the NYT’s archival doorstep again. But no, they want coins from this realm for their troubles. Well, I have troubles of my own.

I go to my Writer’s Almanac and listen to his soothing voice tell me of a young woman born on this date (though I was 16 that year) and how her first book of essays won a Pulitzer. It is good writing – a window onto the vicissitudes of new Americans from India.

And I talk a good game – “…yes, I write for me now.”  I am happy with my history and ever improving my ability to tell it.

I know too I tend to sabotage my own efforts, a phrase here an undeserved challenge there – an anger that I thought was cloaked in the civility of desire – for a larger audience. And I get it back in spades: a dark silence, not even a foreboding one to suggest clues to be clung to. No. There is nothing but an inert army of disdain waiting in the margins of a battlefield already strewn with the gloom and doom of rejection.

“But I write for me!” I’ll take this to my unpublished grave – alas.

July 2nd

It is 7:16 a.m. and the sun is

long view from the porch – into the morning sun

Spilling its diamonds on the soft

Undulations of the lake

Birds chatter

In a tongue

I fail to understand

But enjoy

The grass, taller as

Mower sits idle

Cooler than the neighbor’s

Called into duty at the first

Jagged sign of inequality

Wasteful & Un-greening

The she-cat crouches

In the small clovered shade

A game with the squirrel

And his tree

Today the hunted

Unluckily caught

Yet

Lucky enough

His foe responds

To voice commands –

This time

He scampers up the tree

Screaming his coarse poem:

Profanities in his own tongue