Monday, February 5, 2007

The creative, what?

Another Monday, and I'm worrying about what to cook for dinner this week. All the anxieties, small and large, and I'm concerned with cooking. Maybe that's because it's something that I can control, as opposed to fretting over my problems as a poet—or as a mother or a wife or even an editor. Or it could be that the cooking is a big time sink—it isn't just the bit by the stove, but also the shopping and the dishes. All that time that I could be writing—or trying to write.

Truth: I like to cook. It's a creative act. As soon as I put an onion on the cutting board and pick up a knife, I feel pretty good. It's another one of those activities that can open my mind up a little, relax it and let it wander out of the ordinary. The stress comes from all the planning and needing to please everyone. That could be another parallel with writing poetry.

But, when I'm thinking clearly and not trying to decide between chicken or pork and how to eat less cheese, it comes down to that idea of Living the Creative Life. What if I could approach everything—or almost everything—as a chance to explore an experience and maybe discover something new about the world or myself? (As opposed to thinking, "Chores.")

I can try it when I remember to try it. The trip to the grocery store may be more of a challenge—but with luck, I'll find a parking place.

In the meantime, here's a poem:

What's for Dinner

Slice the onion long from the heart
and see the root ribs fall
away from the knife.

I have worried all day what to cook,
what to write. I dreaded the market
with its canned lights

and big-business meat, avoided
looking the potatoes in the eyes.

I dithered between dill
and fennel, wandered morosely
in search of a metaphor

even while I inspected the string beans,
feeling (so gently fondling) the peaches,
contemplating orzo or rice.

I have fingered through images
while I picked over the porcini,

and now I am chopping and mincing
and stirring and steaming, hungering
for one thought to swallow whole.

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