At the Literary Event
2 the audience
3 at Day's Espresso
5 last night, for our monthly
8 reading series, that I've chosen the Fibonacci Sequence
13 as the structure for the daily poem I'm writing this year.
21 They look nice on the page, I said, but I don't know how they'll come across out loud. How to differentiate
34 commas, hyphens, periods, and line breaks in this nonpoetic system? Then off we went to the Great Pacific Garbage Dump and through the labor and delivery room on our way to Haiti, nodding to
55 Dr. King along the way. They laughed when I said "Waldo Ann." They fell in love with Devin at age six, back before he'd ever had that kind of dream, and they applauded (I think this is true) when I finished reading that poem. I told them I nearly didn't write it, afraid I couldn't
89 do justice to Dr. King and the stony road behind and ahead of us. And together we loathed the wicked Baby Doc Duvalier. The poems were strong to read and good to hear.
Afterwards, one humor writer said I'd inspired him when I spoke of posting a poem a day; that my statement changed his life. Another poet admired my strong final lines; and I said, "Oh, Lord, they're misery. I revise and revise and revise and count and count and count, because you can ruin a whole poem
144 if the final line is weak," which I knew she knew because I'd heard her gorgeous poetry. Another writer explained to me that the Fibonacci Sequence is simply a subset of fractals, which, in mathematics, are numbers that add back into themselves. Oh, and the writer who signed a contract with St. Martin's handed me a sheet of paper.
"In my training," she said, "we were taught to write down the phrases that captured us, and I did that for you." Glancing down the list, I saw she'd caught the bits that caught my attention when I wrote them: the world itself broken; my girls so quickly women; the little death of graft; and more.
Not until I got home did I notice that I'd left the final sentence of the Duvalier poem sitting in the printer tray. Nobody but me was counting words.
by Mary Cartledgehayes