it’s all about the line

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it’s all about the line

break.

I’ve been playing with poetry, you may have noticed. I’ve been reading and hearing and writing the stuff, mostly because of the writers group I attend. They got me onto it and into it and asked me tough questions about the things I was writing.

And lots of questions about line breaks.

If I write, ‘It’s all about the line break,’ it means something different than if I write,

It’s all about the line
break.

This second example gets a double meaning from the pause. It means both,

It’s all about the line,

and

It’s all about the line break.

And so I get to have a blog post with two distinct, though related topics: poetry and ‘the line’.

I have a toddler who likes to push the line. And he makes me examine the line – the boundaries – his and mine. I try to be consistent and kind and fair and tough about the important stuff… of course.

Sometimes the line is clear and, though possibly difficult to adhere to consistently, we all know where it lies. Othertimes the line is rather pale and possibly fluid, or in fact not a line at all.

I try to get writing/editing done during the day, while the kids nap, and also while the kids are awake – or more realistically, when one of them is awake. While Elena has some time in the bouncer, I sit at the table, or on the floor beside her, and edit a few pages, reading them aloud to my poor, innocent daughter. While Louis drinks his milk I get a full ten minutes, perhaps, uninterupted reading/re-reading time.

Progress is slow, and quite possibly the quality of my edit is jeopardized. But progress is progress, and we make a little, every day, pretty much.

But the line, the boundary, between effective juggling and neglect, can be a tough one to spot. I’m not talking about neglect, the kind that social workers and hospitals deal with. I’m talking about making lots of little decisions – does Louis need a nap, is that why he’s acting out? Or is it that he wants a bit more undivided attention? Does he need more undivided attention or would it be good for him to entertain himself a little more?

Is an Elmo video actually a bad idea, or is this simply not a matter of good and bad? (Which I suspect is the case.) (But if we’re honest doesn’t every parent ask themself this question on occasion.) (Unless they’re French and don’t have Elmo.)

Anyway, today was a juggle, on a line. Not quite flaming batons on a tightrope, but let’s say an eight inch thick wall made of scoria – the kind I mastered walking along when I was nine years old, when my feet were tough from going barefoot all year round and my primary school was framed and scored with perfect walls for practising on.

Photo from the Three Kings Primary website (not mine) – there’s that wall we walked along daily, waiting for the parents to pick us up…

Forgive the nostalgia; back to the present: Today, I made it till five before the television went on. We spent a very short period at the park but it was too cold to keep Elena out longer, what with her runny nose and occasional cough.

They both slept at the same time for an hour and a half, but I slept too because last night was a gong show and some days sleep trumps real creative progress.

Yep, I said it. Sometimes writing is just not that important.

But I did get a little editing done. Wanted to do more. Danced with Louis and subjected myself to the jungle-gym treatment instead. C’est la vie.

Which brings me back to poetry. Today’s small stone: something I’ve thoroughly noticed, given my full attention, and then put into words –

utterly reckless
he spins about, strong
legs cling to my waist and squeals
yawp from his gleeful mouth.
He throws
himself back and swings
fearless between my knees
lifts himself with abs
anyone would envy his joy and trust
that I’ll never drop
my dear boy.