Last night I walked the woods path. The moonlight frosted those tenacious beech leaves, giving the illusion of snow. But bare pine needles and cones crunched under my feet. It’s still stick season.
The sticks cast long shadows. High in a tree, a noise squeaked intermittently. The scene reminded me of Carl Sandburg’s words: “Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance.” Sandburg came up with many metaphors about poetry, “the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits,” but I like the echo metaphor.
A line or a phrase won’t go away. It begs for attention, and when I try to capture its importance, it’s like a shadow whose real essence is impossible to capture. I begin to draft the poem, and it’s like learning to dance. I discover the right words, find the rhythm, and create a partnership between the idea and what it means. When I get it right, the echo dances with the shadow instead of bouncing of my brain cells.