A poem takes months or years to complete, to feel finished with, or to abandon entirely. Let's say from three to eighteen months. In that range of gestations, a poem can embody the way of the field mouse (23 days) and the way of the killer whale (517 days). Gestation as time taking what it needs to complete the loop of a head, the loop of an arm, the loopy diversions in the nephrons of the kidney. A loop of thought: I have in me a way of time-marking, with all its attendant fears and burgeonings. "This poem is going nowhere" until suddenly, one day--which is not one day but an accumulation of, say, 217--it pops or floods, is closer than it's been before.And here she is on fruitful distraction:
Perhaps distraction at its most fruitful is a state of richest expectation; or distraction visits when we are most accepting of imposition: are willingly drawn far from routine, invited out of step and consistency and into a puzzle, a puzzlement. Is there a first step one takes then, in belief, in the hope that interruption has with it a gift, is not merely the undermining of intention? Here comes the world suggesting itself, in this form, in that form, and at each turn a chance to adopt it anew, to follow its roots down and routes in.And here she is on the hungry eye:
This gazing at my child is a kind of eating, it is that elementally nourishing. This looking is like green's effect on the eye, relaxing and spreading the rods and cones. The focus and release of a good stretch. That the eye has a sense of its travels, that it journeys out windows, casts over the repetitive spans of bridges, slips past the hair's-width locations of stations on radios, through laden supermarket shelves in search of the blue box, the red can, is a physical truth. The eye's endeavor is an ache and a want. The eye roams and sorts, classifies and knows, too, the far dream of the horizon, that line which isn't a place at all, but an idea about yearning, an idyll, an elsewhere.All this and more in her slim memoir Increase, published in 2000 but well worth a (re)visit.