Everyday poet

When Emma was a poet, she wrote books even the least well-read listener enjoyed. She remains popular now only in academic circles and lives off her investments. She stays indoors, cloistered by agoraphobia, though she hungers for companionship. I hold the Huddleston chair at our University because I am her translator, the one person who can still walk inside and carry her words out again.

She’s moving from her house to an apartment across town, and we’ve been packing for weeks. Her psychiatrist thinks this means she’s finally coming out of isolation. But she and I know it’s merely a new phase of her particular funk. “I won’t be so alone,” she tells me one moment, and “Oh, God, they’ll be all around me,” the next. “New York was like that.”

And then she’s incanting, and I drop the boxes, the dusty tomes in need of stacking, and scramble for my recorder. She tells me, “Being lonely in New York was like falling slipstream, borne along by currents I could not fathom or reach, a passenger in humanity’s wake.”

I’ll take that to my graduate classes, let my students chew the words, grind them through twenty page essays. Only Emma and I will ever know she is speaking of now, not New York, of living pressed into her own books, crowded against the glass of a window she dares not break.


About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Everyday poet — 14 Comments

    • Thank you so much! I woke up this morning with the line “When Emma was a poet” in my head, and that left me wondering, “once you ARE a poet, are you ever really NOT one?”

    • I love your response to my response to the prompt! So there’s meta-writing ;). I used my early morning impulse to ask what it would be like if someone would pay you to spend all day with your favorite author.

  1. Very original and good use of the prompt. It does seem that the most extraordinary writers have the most extraordinary demons to contend with. That’s probably why their words affect us so.
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    • It’s so hard to tell what prompts creativity. I don’t buy the myth that good writing comes from mental illness, but I do recognize that a hell of a lot of the people I read have that strain of madness.

  2. I love when dream cooperate like that. Some of my best stories come from those sort of single lines.

    You’ve created such a complex character in these few words, poetry in themselves.
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