Friday, August 10, 2001

The Songbird on my Shoulder

My mother knew I was a writer
Long before anyone else did,
Least of all me.
When I was 7, she told me to write a poem about
And I did.
And it appeared in the school magazine.
Bitten by the lust
To see my name in print
I realised
that I must, indeed, be a writer.
When I was 11,
It struck me one day
That the words that flowed from my pen
clever phrases
catchy words
elegant descriptions
crafted metaphors
(show-off images)
Were actually automatic.
And I pondered
on their source.
So many years have passed.
I lived through
a long, barren period
in which I never wrote
a single word

but spent long years
accumulating “Material”
(quite unawares)
on which I could write.
And when I finally sat down again,
with pen in hand,
The words flowed
initially rearing and bucking
initially other people’s words,
– and even now,
When my words flow,
smooth and beautiful and artistic,
swiftly clattering
out on the keyboard –

I wonder ...
Where do they come from?
This metaphor of
the song bird on my shoulder
(for instance)
the constant and reliable companion
pouring its sparkling wit into my work
independent of my meagre consciousness –
isn’t it something
someone else
has mentioned before?

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