Sometimes, where I’m writing a poem, I see stars in my eyes and a bowl of clementines with a halo around it and the cat is telling me things just by the way she is curved on my lap. Sometimes a poem is like the radio I took apart once when I was 12. Or a jigsaw puzzle. Or the glue that glues the pieces down. This morning, at the cove, I was hunting for shards. That’s what a poem feels like. Sifting with your mind’s eye the entire beach. A lot of people don’t have the patience for it. But I’ve spent hours there, sometimes two or three times a day, just looking, and sometimes looking without finding. You have to be okay with that, looking without finding. That is another kind of poem. Soon, I’ll find a way to make a poem of the new scar on my thigh, but more often I’m circling the drain. That little catch-all where things get sifted out, \remaindered. I’m looking for remainders. Sometimes, that’s all that’s left to build a poem. It’s Earth Day today, and what’s circling the drain is a memory of the first concert I attended, in college, the yeasty smell of beer in the air and how it was warm enough for tank tops and a sunburn. I was trying to find room on the picnic blanket and then I was leaning back on my elbows and then I was getting up at irregular intervals and dancing. I have no memory of who I was with. I have no memory of the musicians or what they sang. I doubt I knew the words. I was just pulling myself along, trying to get into the thick of the experience. That happens with a poem, like it’s an open sea, and I’m navigating it with a vague sort of radar, a slapdash instrument with shifting numbers and inscrutable directional signals. And all the while, the waves changing their minds about everything. And I’m thinking now of that wild crossing to Monhegan Island with my mother and how, like so many things, it was a relief to have it behind, Sometimes, a poem is like this. I’ve been holding my breath, and then I release it. Or, I’m standing at the edge, and then I’m falling into space. Sometimes it makes so much sense in your head but harder to figure out with your body. But maybe it’s already happening now, without efforting. Maybe it’s like how the first daffodil reveals itself in the garden, like it did this morning. How it wasn’t here yesterday and then, when I woke up, it was. And now, even if this is the only thing that will grow there, I will still have a garden.

maya stein
Maya Stein is a Ninja poet, writing guide and creative adventuress. She has been a freelance writer and editor for more than 20 years and has self-published five books along with a handful of writing prompt booklets. Her latest books are “Grief Becomes You,” a collection of writings and photographs on the subject of loss from more than 60 contributors, and “The Poser: 38 Portraits Reimagined,” a full-color coffee table book of contemporary portrait re-enactments.
Maya facilitates workshops and retreats, live and online, and also works one-on-one with people interested in deepening their creative practice and bringing new work to fruition.
After a 7-year stint in suburban New Jersey, she is now happily ensconced in the wilds of mid-coast Maine in a house named Toad Hall.
You can connect with Maya on her website.

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