national poetry month

I was given thirty days in the whole year to be somewhat productive, but I am failing to find inspiration from this writer’s manifesto. Last month there was a tree. The other day there was a baby sleeping on a plane. A couple weeks ago, on an evening that was all too comfortable, there was a new friend reading me a prophecy in the word lachesism. But now, when everything is boiling and I am bottled with only myself—physically and mentally, speaking—I have nothing but contempt for my silence. As if writing should beget inspiration, and not the other way around, like I’m shouting: “Hey, World! Look what I have produced for you. Feed me.” Instead, she leaves me to make oceans out of four aggressively bland blue walls.

Four blue walls and thirty days. Except I’m not sure that they’re blue, and I’m not sure that they’re days anymore. On the off chance that I am awake when the sun is blaring through my translucent curtains, I will call them cerulean, and it will be a Tuesday. Most nights I see a somber teal. Tonight is Tuesday–Wednesday.

I am being misleading when I say four walls. This is deliberate. There are actually six, because the room caves out at the doorfront. If you look in the two mirrors, you will count ten more, and if you look in one mirror through the other mirror, you will find yourself lost in the unending periphery of your face, back, face, back, until you’re scattered throughout infinity and all of the walls are green. Whether it’s actually infinite, I will never know. For the time being, until I gain the courage to count—to see my reflection from all angles and still maintain focus on the one task I can give myself—I will say four, but I will assume that it is infinite, by induction, and that my eyes are just not trained enough to count walls smaller than they can resolve. 

But what is a poet, if not a mathematician? If not an uncontrollable mitosis? If not someone to multiply a grassroot into a raison d’être, or a chapbook, or a blogpost they’ll edit and edit until the walls are all miserably viridescent?

A poet can create a collection for every crevice in an infinite room. And we, the readers, will smile, or weep, or laugh and sing as the smallest portions of ourselves are irreversibly amplified. A magnifying glass is pressed to our chests as soon as we break a spine and gently graze our thumbs along the right edge of the withering paper. It makes sense, then, that we only read poetry at night, when the sunlight can’t pulverize us. I killed an ant that way, and since then, I have been repulsed by the mere concept of diurnalism, as if my body is screaming: “You are living on the wrong side of the planet. Leave now.”

This isn’t the first time I have been evicted, and it won’t be the last. But this time, there is dissonance in the fact that I can’t leave for at least six months. Or, more accurately, six sets of thirty days. April is nothing special; it’s the way I digest the indefinite. The only difference between that and the infinite is the hope that you will reach an end. Thirty day-nights seems more attainable than October. 

It would be remiss for me not to mention the glaringly canonical phrase here—that some infinities are larger than others—as if we all haven’t read that one heartfelt, proper romantic sob story from 2012 (or cheated death by watching the movie without a magnifying glass). However, I took a math class disguised as a chemistry class and actually learned why some infinities are larger than others, and I’d like to think that national poetry month is something like the infinite number of decimals between 0 and 1. After it is over, we will somehow manage to arrive at 1, and start trying to traverse the infinity between 1 and 2. 

Enough of this, and I will know exactly how many walls are in my room.

It is the intuitive choice for me to say that the number is infinite. But the scarier thought is that the number of walls is indefinite—that is, that I can choose when I am content enough to stop counting. I have no excuse for not writing, because I can always find a new wall, as long as I want to see one. To stop counting is to put down the pen, or to break my arm, or to surgically remove April from the Gregorian calendar, or to finally sell out to Silicon Valley tech industries. So instead, I will avoid my mirrors, and blame the world for only giving me the four walls I choose to see.