This new year has potential. At least, these are the words I verbalize over and over each morning.
I watched the inauguration yesterday, and I exhaled. As a believer in words, rhetoric and tone, I have watched the past four years with hope that it was merely a blip or an oversight of those who chose to tear down the integrity of what I have spent my life upholding.
I believe in words and their power. Positive and constructive words have lifted and propelled me higher than I ever thought possible , while I have been broken and defeated by those delivered with hateful tone and devastating intent.
Words usually win, at least that's what I think. Every day, I fight to overcome a history of words that had me convinced of my inadequacies. As these little words swarm like bees in my brain, they attach to the others and grow, explode. It's a constant battle to shove them away, replacing them with my truths and positivity.
Whether you have a big audience or a social media platform or a private audience of two, words stick.
No matter for whom you voted, the new leader's calming tone was refreshing. Hope is refreshing.
And then you hear twenty-two-year-old Amanda Gorman voicing "The Hill We Climb" and we're moved`
"... And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried...
...We will rise from the golden hills of the west.
We will rise from the wind-swept north-east where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
In every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country,
our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge, battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it."
As a lover of words, I'm overjoyed. As a human being, I'm empowered. As a woman, I'm proud. As a writer, I'm inspired.
Simple words and letters but when connected have the ability to uplift or tear down. No matter the platform, take a fresh look at the words you choose.
I was lucky enough to be in the audience at the Key West Literary Seminar last week when US poet laureate Billy Collins described my life. I'm sure he didn't know that he did. I'm sure every writer in the auditorium felt the same connection. We all have our windows, our inspiration, our place in this world that draws the words to the surface. Mine is on Mayne, just under the maple tree and parallel to the front porch swing. This is my window to my world.
The birds are in their trees,
the toast is in the toaster,
and the poets are at their windows.
They are at their windows
in every section of the tangerine of earth-
the Chinese poets looking up at the moon,
the American poets gazing out
at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.
The clerks are at their desks,
the miners are down in their mines,
and the poets are looking out their windows
maybe with a cigarette, a cup of tea,
and maybe a flannel shirt or bathrobe is involved.
The proofreaders are playing the ping-pong
game of proofreading,
glancing back and forth from page to page,
the chefs are dicing celery and potatoes,
and the poets are at their windows
because it is their job for which
they are paid nothing every Friday afternoon.
Which window it hardly seems to matter
though many have a favorite,
for there is always something to see-
a bird grasping a thin branch,
the headlights of a taxi rounding a corner,
those two boys in wool caps angling across the street.
The fishermen bob in their boats,
the linemen climb their round poles,
the barbers wait by their mirrors and chairs,
and the poets continue to stare
at the cracked birdbath or a limb knocked down by the wind.
By now, it should go without saying
that what the oven is to the baker
and the berry-stained blouse to the dry cleaner,
so the window is to the poet.
before the invention of the window,
the poets would have had to put on a jacket
and a winter hat to go outside
or remain indoors with only a wall to stare at.
And when I say a wall,
I do not mean a wall with striped wallpaper
and a sketch of a cow in a frame.
I mean a cold wall of fieldstones,
the wall of the medieval sonnet,
the original woman's heart of stone,
the stone caught in the throat of her poet-lover.
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.