Two seemingly innocuous, unrelated events converged in my recent past. The first was that my wife and kids went to visit my parents in Ohio for a two-week stay. Without me. The second is that, whilst wandering the Internet, I came across an article called (something like) “Things You Can Make With 2×4’s.” I forget exactly what all the things you could make were, but I remember that one was a coffee table.
In early summer, my friends and I organized a writing workshop led by poet Kevin Prufer. Since then, I’ve been thinking all summer about one topic that Prufer discussed, namely, sentimentality in poetry. I was intrigued when he took up the subject. I’d never heard anyone speak at length about it, and I am one who always feels like I’m fighting sentimentality in my writing. Call me a sentimental fool. I wanted to hear more; so did everyone else in the workshop, it seemed.
Shadows are falling and I’ve been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep, time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there
I’ve thought about Bob Dylan’s song “Not Dark Yet” for over ten years now. Ever since a lonely plane ride back from Texas, where I’d just help relocate my best friend. Some moments press down a sadness and leave a mark. Songs are like that, too.