The Life of a Writer

the life of a writer is desire 
            i hammer into the page 
                        i make up my mind: the streetlight 

is not the moon, but anything can be
            made beautiful under the ease 
                        of my hammer 

i wish you could see that i write in blue ink
            the color of oceans & early mornings 
                        & everything is clear like 

tears rushing towards the chin 
            of my desire. i pen what i’m meant
                        to pen. how deep in love i am 

& how silly of me to spend all morning dreaming 
            about love & not expect my 
                        desire to set me free 

the knives of my fingers tap
            out the notion that if i turn the key 
                        it will unlock.

admittedly, i am foolish 
            about love—a simple yes excites me—
                        ’cause i know that all that i require will be met

like water meets the tongue. it’s scary
            desire, a small fan at my window in the summer, 
                        a booklight lighting the pages of my life


Copyright © 2021 by Jalynn Harris. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 19, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Deep inside the jaws of the pandemic, I’d found myself chewed up and swallowed by unending loneliness. The morning I wrote this poem, I’d completely given myself over to looking outside the window of my longing; I was writing love poems. What I saw was a streetlight. A man-made object that dared to mimic the elegance of the moon. This symbol of light was just enough for me to know that all the love my heart longed for was not as out of reach as I’d been made to feel. That if the streetlight could derive its meaning from the moon, then the longing I pressed out of my pen was also bringing me closer and closer to something more real and more exciting than I could ever imagine. How horrifying! And how energizing to be completely alone yet comforted by creating a poem, a record of where I was and a contract for where I was going.”
Jalynn Harris