Nine Years! and, “Love Poem to Skins”

I began a short draft of this poem last night,
writing along with my graduate workshop in hybrid
forms to a freewrite prompt in response to our
reading of Claire Wahmanholm's Wilder.

Sheila, who brought us the prompt, said something
like: What would you miss if this whole apocalyptic
scenario came to pass? write a love poem to that.

The spirit of the prompt was to consider how,
in this world of steady disintegration
and ruin, there are still so many things
that we love in it.

This morning, I returned to what I wrote
last night and felt like I needed to write
one more part: the part that says stay,
hold on, not yet.

What have I learned, what am I still
learning? That fear is probably the biggest
obstacle to getting anything written. We all
cycle through moments of exhilaration and anxiety,
confidence and paralysis; too much of either
can turn into writer's block. Fear goes by
other names like impostor syndrome. And
perfectionism. That what it is I crave
that's met in part by coming to my daily
writing is the promise of untrammelled time
and space— which as all
creatives know,
is the ideal condition
for dreaming and making
art. For such as it is,
it means that I want
to create even a small
space in my day, every
day, to try to meet
myself there; whatever
might come out of it
is already surplus, a gift.

Mostly, I'm very grateful for this sustaining
practice; for this space that I've been able
to share thanks to Dave Bonta; and for all
of you out there who might chance upon
these poems and read them.


Also, today marks my ninth year of writing
(at least) a poem a day— which I guess calls for

some kind of celebration... So, how lucky
was it that three officers from the ODU Asian
Faculty Caucus stopped by my office just now
to present me with a bottle of champagne,
since apparently I am the first winner of
their champagne raffle???

Here is a photo of Dr. Harry Zhang (Asian Faculty
Caucus President,
Professor in the School of
Community Health
Sciences) handing me the bottle
of bubbly; we
are flanked by Prof. Hua Liu (Geography)
Prof. Weiyong Zhang (College of Business).



After the pulp discards
the seed, after the flesh
gives me its sweet, its
golden yellow— I am
an orb suffused by sun
in a grove among other skins
unplucked, as yet
Give me back
to myself, I say:
as my mouth encloses
what disrobed itself
for me, as the knife
is cleaned and put away.


And sew me a shift
out of tatter and rue,
pearled with seed,
thinned with future
use. You know how I
love a stitch
that sings
with the voice
of a hidden bird,
so don't ply your leaf-
blower yet; don't start
on how trees have torn
their beautiful
dresses to shreds.

5 Replies to “Nine Years! and, “Love Poem to Skins””

  1. A huge congratulations! And deep gratitude for your inspiring example, your willingness to share your drafts with Via Negativa’s readers on the open web, and to be such a dependable (yet always unpredictable) co-blogger. I’m quite sure I would’ve burned out on Via Negativa years ago had it continued to be a solitary venture. Instead, you inspired me to follow suit with a daily writing project of my own, and probably also to start taking my work at least a bit more seriously. And so the Via morphed into this long-distance self-publishing collaboration, and we are just a few days away from reaching our 10,000th published post! Maraming salamat.

    Also, I love Dr. Zhang’s shirt!

    1. I’ll pass on your compliments on Harry’s shirt :)

      I’ve never been described as “dependable (yet always unpredictable” before, but haha I’ll take it :) As they say, no surprise for the writer/blogger, no surprise for the reader? But seriously, I like being unpredictable to myself too.

      Contratulations as well to you – what a milestone of 10,000 posts!

  2. Congratulations and thank you, Luisa, for your poems, your persistence, your dedication– and your friendship. I’m so glad to know you and to have had opportunities to work with you, and be inspired by you too. Hooray!

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