(for the writer who can’t write, and who doesn’t know how to live without writing)
study people’s mouths on the subway, then write
their lips’ biographies. look up recordings of whale songs,
eking sound from their mass, translate
those moans into your language.
read a catalogue of artistic suicides: Rembrandt dressed
in his finest suit, Sexton in her mother’s fur coat,
Plath with wet towels under the doors,
Woolf with rocks in her pockets,
Hemingway’s brain still rattling with
electricity. reject the romanticization of
death, wonder why the clothes, the moment, the method
before jumping off a bridge. deck things
in flowers, sit in a plant shop, count out pennies for a bloom.
stumble into a jazz club, shake your hips
until words dislodge and pour,
staining cheap paperthin napkins, floating like dead fish
in a stranger’s gin.
learn how to make candles, drip wax patterns on to your
hands; watch the news, swear at the shipwrecks and invasions and
weather warnings. try on a persona: smoke,
wear black and drink endless coffees; or
purchase pink crinolines and mix margaritas on the patio.
cry until you gasp. get up early and just sit at your kitchen table,
don’t panic if your whole body tells you it can’t make it
through the day, pocket dimes and single earrings and
brilliant pieces of glass: imbue your own charms with goodwill.
imagine sleeping inside someone else’s body, slipping
into their shape as subtly, as self-consciously as a
morphing cloud, envisage filling their skin like a noose,
like a moon, such absolute trust,
holding their breath like a prayer.