I sit myself at the table and I write. The Muse? I will have none of it. I am more interested in hard work than in inspiration. If I wait for the muse I will be waiting a lifetime.
Poetry works differently. I sit myself down and there is nothing but the words on the page, written in a different, heightened state. Poetry must be seized, it seems. At this desk there is nothing. The strict discipline of the craft will leave me with a gaping whiteness on the page like a scream arrested.
Today I feel on the edge of a poetry. I am unbalanced, dizzy with the heat and the shock of my flesh melting into it. I flick between A Grief Observed and Harwood and Best Australian Science and there is a vague hum as if the books are speaking to each other when I am not looking. I pace. This is how I write poetry when I am not mad or bereft. I have to catch it at a glance, side-on, sidling up to it. My note paper capturing the words, resisting judgement.
I open a painting and it is there, that hum, that image between the spidery letters of a word. I am quick to scoop up three lines. Then my pen turns to dough on the page. I must walk away and let the syllables rise like an unwatched pot.
My grandmother is shaking her head, she of the workmanlike elbows and fists. You must grab it - and the fly plucked from the air. But my grandmother never wrote a poem. There is no grabbing a poem. It is more like photographic developing than sculpture. It is a quite sitting, half-looking, squinting through dark, waiting for the words to settle blackly on the page.
Today I have written two poems.
My grandmother is behind me. Tsking her tongue.
She is not impressed.