the planner: b-day poem for 31

It is going to take me a while to write up the full summary of my wonderful three-day weekend, so in the interim I’d like to post the poem I wrote and recited at my birthday party. Thank you to everyone at my party who let me drag them outside to the streetcorner so I could read it in slightly quieter surroundings, and thank you to FunkyPlaid for helping me come up with apt castle parts.

The Planner

My first day planner was
thick with printed pages,
slick fake leather in my grip,
the perfect size. The perfect
accompaniment to my sense of
rightness, to my sense of
good sense, putting each thing
in its place
in careful block lettering.

Page by page, I constructed
what was to be a fortress of order,
surrounded by a moat of black ink,
a drawbridge of a flap and a snap.
No one gained entrance without
his name entered in this ledger,
his title called out from the parapets.

Then life sped up, and many came and went
from this fortress. I grew tired of finding room
for all the oubliettes of silent friends.
I closed wings for repairs — too drafty,
too musty — and rearranged arrangements
to everyone’s chagrin.

No one could stand my lists of lists,
my checkmarks, my obsessive schedules.
The merest hint of chaos sent me into fits.
I planned my life and planned it all away,
though nothing ever went just as I wrote.

In time, the moat receded,
crenellations weathered,
heralds up and quit.
Murder holes appeared where none had been before.
The portcullis became temperamental,
sometimes slamming down in the middle of admittance,
or refusing for weeks to open at all.

By then, no one was left.
My hands were cut and smudged,
paper and ink all I had befriended.
Smug turned to sad. I walked the parapets
and watched for who I drove away.

And as I watched I saw a gorgeous thing:
spread out like stains across the dusk
a fire of green and pink and gold
that made no sense. It simply was,
and was so suddenly, without a planner’s note.
Like someone told me once
love was supposed to be:
for its own sake, bright and given fully,
without a schedule or a checklist.

So there: there is my pen. I’ll put it down.
Build from there and I will build to you
a better bridge between us. No need for iron gates.
What happens now, who knows, but I would be remiss
to miss this chance to love, and to let go.

(c) 2004 by the HMB for the MSG

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