Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Advice to Myself by Louise Erdrich

Advice to Myself

By Louise Erdrich

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.

Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.

Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.

Except one word to another.
Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.

Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator.

Accept new forms of life and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.

Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

~From: "Original Fire: New and Selected Poems", by Louise Erdrich, page 149

"There is a difference between one and another hour of life, in their authority and subsequent effect. Our faith comes in moments; our vice is habitual. Yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Portable Emerson", page 228, 'The Over-Soul'
I'm trying to take the advice here today.  It's not working.  I want to clean house, do laundry, sort junk and not write.  Not writing is easy.  Housework is hard.  I want to write and I've got nothing, zilch.  I'm tabula rasa, blank.  Maybe the puttering will inspire me, jump start my engine.  Later, friends, 


Wine and Words said...

"Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos" - I love that! Bloody Hell, if cleaning can jump start an engine I just might do it! Lemme know if it worked. I am hungry for an original Marion poem!

Love you!

Kelly said...

I think I've read this poem before and it's one I really like.

I hope you find your muse again. I love your original poetry!!!

Karen said...

In light of what happened with Michael Dorris, I wonder at the things that haunt Louise Erdrich.

She is a wonderful writer, and I think this is excellent advice.

I've decided that if I wait for inspiration, I'll seldom write, so I'm sitting down daily to just do it - whether or not I produce anything worth reading. That's my "jump start."

Good luck finding yours.

Woman in a Window said...

don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience

I needed exactly this, Marion. Exactly, and this is why I came. Thank you.

Wondering just what you might have accomplished...


ds said...

Wonderful poem, thanks so much for sharing it, Marion. Now I've an excuse for leaving the crumbs in the toaster oven ;)

Hope you found your inspiration.

Sue said...

Oh, I like that!


Terresa said...

Just wrote a long comment, think it got lost somewhere out there (ughh!!).

Loved this poem, can related to the housework that piles in waves, nearly to drowning. I mop my floors about once a month, and run a wet paper towel over dirty places in between.

PS: Been out of town to a family wedding; just catching up on blog reading now. Loved the Erdrich poem!! Loved It!! Thanks for your constant flow of inspiration!