86–Slow business, indeed.
Slow Business – as in the process of illness, of dying, of grief. But also: the slow business of writing. And the slow business of poetry itself.
By next week, I’ll have a collection of poetry available for sale.
It’s my own product, my own “thing,” created to share my ordered words with you and the world.
I’m proud of it. I have a proof copy in my hands right now. It feels complete. I’m excited for you to get a copy into your hands soon.
If you’ve lost the thread: most of the poems collected in the book were written in witness of my father’s illness and decline. The topic isn’t so much grief, as shock, and worry, and love, and connection, and the small details that make up the long walk from “this place to the other.” (He did love walking.)
It’s also, I hope, a celebration of the radical blooming of life that occurs even during the last moments of a living person’s embodied existence.
In other words: it’s a liturgy, but not one read at his bedside – one written there; a worshipful noticing of an experience I shared with him. It just happened to be the last we shared while he was living. (And a relatively shitty one, as these things go.)
My desire is that it reads as a heartfelt devotional, and I’d be flattered – grateful, excited – if you got a copy. Or two.
I’ll send links once they’re live. And in the meantime, I’ll share the title poem.
Unlike most poems in this collection, this poem wasn’t written in real-time.
Rather, I decided one morning (I do not know why) that the collection would be called “Slow Business” and I had a few stanzas that were not coming together in any meaningful way.
Something told me that those stanzas were the slow business. So I put that title as their title and stared menacingly at those stubborn words.
Once the stray stanzas had a title, they began to dance and shake. Some of them disappeared. For a few, each word changed so many times that eventually none of the original words were left, and they seemed to be entirely different stanzas (though, I knew, that underneath those new stanzas, the old stanzas, the old words, were hiding).
Eventually, that long, meandering poem – a stretched-out poem with only a word or two on each line – became a fatter, shorter poem, and then an even shorter one (but a little less fat).
Then, for a while, it was a poem with no end. And it stayed that way for weeks.
In fact, it was that way for so long that I’d already had a friend design the book, lay it out, and create PDFs for the proofs (thanks Trip!) – all while this poem stayed endingless.
I thought: that’s fine. Not all poems need endings.
But, fittingly, while I was doing a final read-through for typos, the last lines climbed into my head and onto the page.
Yes: the last poem written was finished after the entire book was finished.
Yes: it’s called “Slow Business.”
Slow business – as in the process of illness, of dying, of grief. But also: the slow business of writing. And the slow business of poetry itself.
Slow business, indeed.