Earlier today I was reciting Shakespearean sonnets for Izzy until she squealed for mercy and Amalia was cracking up. Izzy’s class is starting a unit on WS. While Amalia was doing back walkovers and being told to straighten her knees and point her toes, I read a little Horace. I can still hear Amalia’s coach Olga yelling, “Knees and toes, Amalia, knees and toes.” Amalia and I started singing on the way home–you know the head, shoulders, knees and toes song. It morphed into shed, holders, teas and nose. By the time we got home, we were searching for another rhyme for nose and come up with words that are inherently funny. Izzy thought we’d lost our minds.
All was good and funny for a while. Once we stopped laughing, I felt like crying. I’m on the rollercoaster again. It’s not a serious mental condition. It’s just one of the symptoms that crops up when I’m not writing poetry.
I never did get to reading the other day. Instead, I put the brakes on, watched reruns of Law and Order and ate cinnamon toast until I had to pick the girls up from school. I didn’t even feel guilty or disgusted with myself. In fact, I was bummed that it was a half day at school. I never did find out who ran over the attractive parole officer.
Today I put on lipstick and felt extremely competent until I read the intro to the book on Horace. There was a brief account of A.E. Housman lecturing on one of the odes. After Housman analyzed the poem, he simply read it aloud to his students. The students thought they saw tears in Housman’s eyes. This is from the intro by J.D. McClatchy–”That,” they remember him saying in the tone of a man betraying a secret, “I regard as the most beautiful poem in ancient literature.”
I love stories like this. Housman must have studied and taught that poem over and over. Certainly, he’d read it numerous times. It still had the power to move him to tears. You just can’t beat that for a long lasting punch–a poem some two thousand years old brings tears to the eyes of a tough old professor in front of his students. I want that.
My ego is not so large as to suppose for even a moment that I’ll ever write anything as century-spanning as Horace. What I want is to be moved like that. To always let poetry have that power over me. And it does, except lately poetry’s been relegated to the very bottom of the To-Do list. Is it too dramatic to say that it feels like a piece of me is missing? Finding the balance between motherhood and writing feels impossible tonight.
Ah yes. Perfect timing. The cranberry bread (from a mix) for tomorrow’s bake sale needs to come out of the oven. Thus ends this post.