February Is Long This Year

Winter seems intent on being winter this year. My body seems intent on fighting off illness this February. The rain spits. The rain turns to snow, turns to slush, turns to rain, turns to freezing hail. I move from stomach flu to feeling well to a cold that makes my nose seem like the focus of my days. It’s an alive thing, ha ha.

Which makes me think of hanging out with my mom’s group last week. How I told them about looking at pictures of myself in my 20s. Of remembering myself at age 16. Of how alive I remember feeling at age 16. How so much of my life was before me when I was in my 20s. And in perfect mom group fashion, my earnestness turned into laughter and we repeated the phrase again and again: I was an alive thing! Let’s go be alive!

But I’m always an alive thing. Sometimes I am an alive thing reaching toward an exciting interview, meeting someone I admire, and then in that meeting, I turn more alive. I turn two rapt ears and become a whole listener as my interviewee recited poetry. Ah, Philip Larkin. Yeats. Emily Dickinson. Mary Oliver. Jane Kenyon. To fall into the rhythm of listening to beats as a reader gave proof that poetry is meant to be read out loud.

Poetry makes me come alive. Perhaps that’s all I have to say today as I try to care my body back into better health (oy, my nose, it’s an alive thing). Most days I listen to an introduction and poem read by Tracy K. Smith on her brilliant, roughly 5-minute podcast called The Slowdown. I’m such a reader that I admit to only having fallen in love with one podcast: The Slowdown. And that’s because poetry is meant to be read out loud. My interview yesterday brought that thought home. It was heavenly to listen to my interviewee recite a handful of stanzas and poems randomly throughout our conversation. I felt as alive as my 16 and 20-something year old selves.

Truth be told, I feel that alive often. I think it’s just watching my kids grow up that reminds me of my younger self. I’m trying to figure out how to get more of that yearning youthfulness back into my almost 50-something body. It’s a daily project. And I’m slowly beginning to like it as February continues to be winter and I inch myself past my latest cold.

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